When it comes to construction sites, it’s still very much a man’s world. But that is something leading housebuilder Persimmon Homes is keen to change – and the company’s only female site manager, Jade Simmons, is proof that gender is no barrier to success.
Jade is currently in charge of Persimmon’s Sycamore Gardens development in Caerphilly, South Wales. The 34-year-old from Blaenllechau, in the Rhondda, joined Persimmon as trainee site manager in 2014 and has quickly worked through the ranks to assistant site manager and now site manager.
“Obviously I’m aware that I’m usually the only woman working on a site,” said Jade. “But it doesn’t bother me, and it hasn’t held me back.
“At the end of the day it’s about dealing with people properly and fairly, regardless of their gender, or indeed anything else.
“Construction is something I’ve always been passionate about and I’d certainly encourage more females to think about it. There is absolutely no reason why women can’t do the job – that is just a perception.”
Encouragingly, recent reports suggest that the gender balance in construction is improving with women accounting for around 20 per cent of the workforce (www.randstad.co.uk/s3fs-media/uk/public/2019-10/cpe_women-in-construction_2018_.pdf).
Persimmon Homes sees the untapped pool of female talent as one of the ways to tackle the skills shortage.
Richard Latham, Persimmon’s Group HR Director, said: “We are working hard to actively encourage more women to consider a career in homebuilding. We are seeing the benefit of this with women accounting for nearly 40 percent of our commercial teams and a third of our land teams across the business.
“We are also finding more women are considering site-based roles, which are traditionally very male-dominated. We have recently seen an increasing number of women embarking on site management careers and we have recently taken a number of female apprentices.
“Whilst numbers on site are still low compared to other occupational areas the increased interest is encouraging for the future.”
Persimmon Homes currently has four female assistant site managers and is also working with Women into Construction to support the more women into the industry.
Paul Curry, Persimmon Group Training Manager, said: “As a business we are actively engaging with a number of projects including the HBF’s partnership with Women in Construction, where we have offered placements and delivered training to women interested in entering the homebuilding industry.
“Through our Construction Ambassador network we will also be doing more outreach to schools and colleges highlighting the benefits of the industry through positive female role models. This is seeing benefits through the increase in interest we are getting from young women wanting to enter our industry.
“One of the perceived barriers to women getting into the industry is that the job will involve physical work on a building site, but through health and safety driven changes the work environment has changed dramatically.
“The biggest barrier to women entering construction roles is still one of perception both from those entering the industry and internally from the industry itself. We are working with the HBF and other partners to change those perceptions.
“This is particularly so in professional and technical careers that support our developments such as planning, sales, land acquisition, technical and commercial, which can offer varied and rewarding careers for people at all levels and for which we are seeing significant interest from female applicants.”
For more information or current vacancies, visit www.persimmonhomes.com