Is sexism and homophobia a problem in property construction in north London?

Picture from 10% and Rising by Leonora Saunders

Picture from 10% and Rising by Leonora Saunders - Credit: Archant

Only 10 per cent of workers would recommend working in construction if you are a woman or a gay man

A new survey from the Architects Journal this week found that only one in ten would recommend the construction industry as a great place to work for women and gay men in the UK.

As part of the first industry-wide survey into sexuality in the workplace almost 1,000 workers took part in the poll, which tackled the visibility and experiences of sexual minorities in the workplace.

Respondents were also asked if they had experienced homophobia in the workplace, with 80 per cent of women and gay men in some parts of the industry saying they had heard homophobic comments, and respondents’ making clear that construction was a stereotypically male dominated environment.

Women make up only two per cent of those in the construction industry, in numbers so low that the Office for National Statistics has called them unmeasurable.

Earlier in August Ham&High property interviewed north London-based property developer and commentator Marta de Sousa, who spoke about being wolf whistled at work, and said that “male banter culture is quite a big barrier for women in the industry”.

Photographer Leonora Saunders, who is currently working with de Sousa on her Built By Her project, and is known for her 10% and rising series (which focuses on women in industries where they make up less than 10 per cent of the work force) added that she wasn’t surprised to learn of the figures.

“Certainly out of all the male dominated industries I’ve been exploring, women in the construction industry do have the worst time of it,” said Saunders, who is also based in London.

“Sexism is embedded so firmly in the culture it sees the least amount change. And change also has to come from the top down. There are amazing initiatives going on to increase the amount of women in the industry but in construction it takes a while filter through.

“I would say that from my own experiences from meeting these women I’ve been struck by how impressive they are. In a lot of cases they have to forge ahead and work hard and also battle a culture that doesn’t make it particularly easy to get ahead.”