As the next generation of female construction workers, Katie Wiseman, trainee quantity surveyor and Shannon Massey, pre-construction project manager, tell us all about their roles, what inspired them to enter the industry and their hopes for the future
Construction is largely considered to be a heavily male-dominated industry – one defined by stereotypes and expectations. Although this continues to exist, last year it was reported that 37% of new entrants into the UK construction industry from higher education are female, along with 14% of construction industry professionals*.
This has been supported by a greater number of opportunities for women to enter the industry, and that’s exactly how Katie Wiseman and Shannon Massey went on to start their careers. In their roles as trainee quantity surveyor and pre-construction project manager at MTX, the MMC (Modern Methods of Construction) specialists, both have gone on to kickstart their careers in the industry.
Katie Wiseman is a trainee quantity surveyor at MTX
“My initial interest in construction stemmed from my dad building our family home. The entire process involved many discussions and sparked my curiosity about the industry. This went on to inspire my choices, and consequently, I chose to undertake my year 10 work experience at The Casey’s Construction Group. During this time, I shadowed individuals in all the different departments and that allowed me to realise I wanted to progress my future in quantity surveying.
“Following the completion of A-Levels, HNC and my CSCS card, I went on to achieve my place at Salford University, studying Quantity Surveying, and I’m now in my third year.
“During studying and achieving my qualifications, I’ve worked as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor at two different companies, allowing me to gain a perspective on the industry from two differing outlooks.
“It’s easy to take for granted the impact that the construction industry can have on people’s lives. Of the projects I’ve worked on, one of my favourites has been the £11.5 million medium-security unit for the NHS Trust at Calderstone Hospital in Whalley. Working in healthcare, the projects we work on, especially over the last few years can really help to support the lives of communities. Despite the small part that you play in an overall project, you’re left with a real sense of pride.
Construction stereotypes are being transformed by women
“Traditionally, construction is a male-dominated industry with certain ingrained attitudes, however, respect is a right for every individual, gender, religion or background. Although we’re very aware of the stereotypes, these issues are currently being transformed, and I’m pleased to be at the forefront of this, wanting to challenge and change these perceptions.
“Upon joining MTX, I mentioned in my final interview how I wanted to become much more involved as a woman in construction. Providing safety and dignity are maintained, I’m a firm believer that femininity need not be compromised, and I don’t want to be stereotyped because of this.
“I have high expectations for the future of women in the construction industry. Firstly, and simply, we are assessed exactly as our male colleagues, with a level playing field, and that we are viewed by the new progressive managements with the recognition of the benefits that women bring to the whole industry. Along with any minority, successful women need to be seen promoted by example. Seeking opportunities for discussing career development with the wide variety of occupations and possibilities for societal enhancement, would attract many more women to the industry.
“MTX is a progressive company giving me both opportunities to gain a degree together with a solid grounding in the practical aspects of the whole company. There is a positive and forward-looking team that I am engaged with. I am confident in being able to discuss both my career development and work situations that I may require direction with.
“In 2022 both men and women must recognise the necessity of the occasional attitude adjustment.
“I’m really keen to talk about my experience, and the opportunity to speak at career conventions and in schools to inspire the next generation of women to join this industry is something I would like to include in the next stage in my career.”
Shannon Massey is a pre-construction project manager at MTX
“Construction offers such vast opportunities across so many different trades. Being able to come face to face with sub-contractors, Quantity Surveyors and external clients really appealed to me.
“Despite only more recently taking up my position at MTX in January of this year, I first entered the industry in 2017. After leaving school I attended college for two years, undertaking a course in public service.
“I was searching for an opportunity within the construction industry at an apprentice level that provided me with scope to progress my career, and that led to me taking up a role as a business administrator within a small and newly formed construction company. This allowed me to develop and grow as the company did.
“This gave me a lot of exposure early on in my career, through experiencing a number of different disciplines, including accounts, procurement and site-based activities such as office management and managing the onsite restaurants implemented to give the construction workers a place of rest on site. I was provided with opportunities to learn and build my knowledge, and given insight at various levels of the business.
“The following year, in January 2018, I joined the pre-construction team, coordinating key activities to enable the start of works on site, in line with the agreed contract programme. This was really the start of my construction career, and pre-construction has been my area of interest ever since.
“Over the last four years, I have worked on over 30 pre-construction projects, which have ranged from £5 million to £95 million, assisting the senior management team in delivering these to site.
Female representatives on site have increased
“Being a woman in the construction industry does come with its hurdles, however over the last five years I have seen a noticeable shift – there’s certainly an increase in the number of women on site which is incredibly encouraging to see.
“In my short time at MTX I feel incredibly respected in my position, and my gender certainly hasn’t stood in the way of expanding my knowledge. I have a real willingness to learn and can’t wait to progress.
“Although steps have been made forward for women in construction, there’s work to do, and I believe this will be progressive over time.
“The construction industry needs to be open-minded to women and the value they can bring to all aspects of the industry. With diversity comes new ways of working and thinking and that’s pivotal to progression in the industry.”