Break the bias

Tuesday 8 March is International Women’s Day.

It’s a time to celebrate the progress already made towards gender equality and seek to break the bias even further.

In celebration of this day, we’d like to introduce three of the newest members of our development team, an industry that might be misinterpreted as very male dominated.

Cathy, Fran and Isabel joined our Pelham team in the last year. They’re working hard helping to bring new affordable, housing projects to life across the East Midlands.

Cathy

“I’ve worked in various roles within social housing prior to joining development. Before that I wrongly assumed that all staff on site are men. Certainly, growing up in the 90’s that seemed to be the case with what was portrayed in the media.

“I didn’t even know this kind of job existed before joining development. I personally wouldn’t have seen it as an option for me. It’s certainly not something school pushed on me … they recommended working in textiles.

“You have to be a good communicator to do this job well. You’ve got to be able to speak to tenants, contractors and builders among many other professionals. You have to be willing to be authoritative to some individuals and demonstrate real understanding and empathy to others, depending on the situation.

“But it’s a great sector to work in. I love that I get to see a new development through from start to finish. At the end of a project, you know you’ve met local housing need, and you have a fantastic new estate to show for it.

“I’m lucky – I haven’t experienced any negativity in my role, and haven’t found being a woman to be a barrier in the development field at all …. I’d love to see some more women on site though!”

Fran

 “Construction itself can feel more male dominated, particularly on site. But the work we do, the project managing behind the scenes, it definitely feels more inclusive.

“I’ve always worked for local authorities and public sector organisations. Perhaps they offer a better work life balance, greater flexibility for childcare? Certainly that’s been a draw for me. I’ve been lucky.

“I’ve only ever worked for values-driven organisations, where equality and diversity is valued and supported. It’s always been really important to me that where I work aligns with my own ethics. I could never work somewhere where inequality of any kind was a systematic problem.

“I think to encourage more women into the sector, we need to raise awareness of the benefits that construction offers. There are a multitude of career options out there, and they are not all on site! It’s a really exciting, ever evolving environment to work in.

“I think it is a great career. I love it! What other job has more of a direct impact on people, than providing them with a stable and secure home? What a positive impact to make! I consider it a real privilege.”

Isabel

“Housing development is a great career to be in, and it’s so important to me that I agree with the ethos of the work. We are providing homes for people whose needs are not met by the market.

“Sites can feel male dominated at times, and perhaps there’s a perception that as a woman you’re going to be softer, but as a project manager I am there to ensure projects are delivered as promised. In any line of work you need a range of skills. Being on site, you need really good personal skills, you have to liaise with lots of people, bringing them together to focus on the end goal.

“I find this job so fascinating. I’m working with such a wide range of talented people, including contractors, solicitors, architects, planners, our Employer’s Agent, Clerk of Works and Quantity Surveyor who really know their stuff! 

“Best of all is going on site and seeing the completed homes at the end. It’s really wonderful to see all the different strands of the project come together. It’s really fascinating.

“And, of course you get to give people lovely new homes at the end!”