Dayle Bayliss backs RIBA president’s drive to encourage more women into construction jobs

Dayle Bayliss.

Dayle Bayliss. - Credit: Archant

An award-winning Suffolk construction consultant is championing a global drive to encourage more women into the sector.

Dayle Bayliss says that the industry’s current focus on recruitment, to address a growing skills gap in construction trades, is also the perfect opportunity to tackle the gender imbalance issue.

Women currently represent only 11% of the overall construction workforce and just 2% of manual roles in the industry.

“Occupational segregation has long been an embarrassing hallmark of the industry,” said Dayle. “But a woman can do any job a man can do and no sector can hope to excel when it consistently fails to attract and retain members of one half of the population.”

Dayle, who runs construction consultancy Dayle Bayliss Associates, based at Bentley, near Ipswich, aims to push this message in East of England as part of a larger campaign by the Royal Institute of British Architects whose president, Jane Duncan, plans a global social media campaign to encourage women into construction.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day on March 8, it aims to show young women, parents and teachers that careers in construction are not off-limits to girls.

Dayle, a former EADT Young Business Person of the Year, said: “Education is key here. We need to address deep-rooted misconceptions and beliefs about the construction sector and show young women that this is an exciting, diverse and viable career path with lots of options and opportunities for them to explore.”

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And she added: “This is not just a matter of addressing gender inequality. The construction industry is on its knees at the moment because there is such a shortage of skilled workers. There are gaps to fill and jobs out there for men and women.”

Nick Boles, the skills and equalities minister, has just appointed five women and three men as trustees of the Construction Industry Training Board which is trying to address this issue.

The move has made it the first non-departmental public body to have a female-majority board, which Mr Boles said he hoped would “encourage more women to consider a career in construction”.

Jane Duncan said she was delighted to see her cause being taken seriously by government as well as local businesswomen like Dayle.

“The idea is simply to make a bit of noise in the construction industry around the world and make women a bit more visible,” she said.

“A significant part of our industry has an ostrich approach to diversity. The world is changing around us but this industry is not changing fast enough and it will die if we don’t help it.”