The Role of Women in Property
Fundamentally, the property industry is about designing and creating beautiful, comfortable and functional places for people to live and work. Although these places are intended for everyone, the property sector has traditionally been a male-dominated industry – meaning that half of the population has been responsible for creating homes and offices for the whole.
Clearly, such a state of affairs is inadequate. The role of women in the property industry in all its forms (architecture, construction, interior design and more) has undoubtedly been underrepresented to date, though things have been improving over the last decade or so and must continue to do so if we are to truly see equality in this most important of economic sectors.
The rise of women in property
At present, women still only account for a mere 15% of the total workforce in the property industry. While that may sound like a small figure, it’s a vast improvement on the situation just ten years ago. Indeed, one leading industry female has called the shift in women in property over recent times “seismic”, claiming that those who outperform their male counterparts can expect to have their efforts valued and their performance rewarded.
The growth of women in the industry is projected to continue over the coming years, with females expected to make up over a quarter (26%) of the entire construction workforce by 2020. This growth is also reflected in monetary terms; in the years between 2005 and 2015, the salaries of females in the construction industry grew by 6% every year – resulting in wages that are significantly better than they were a decade ago.
Long way to go
Despite this, there are still many challenges ahead. A recent survey of women in architecture revealed that while the UK is at the forefront of employing women in the industry (with 68% of all female architects worldwide working in the UK), 20% of those confessed they would discourage others from following in their footsteps. This is believed to be caused by a discrepancy in wages; 40% of those surveyed said they thought they would earn more if they were male.
The recent row over wage equality in the BBC and in Hollywood has brought the issue to the forefront of mainstream consciousness and it’s vital that the industry continues to nurture promising female talents by addressing those concerns. Paying employees an appropriate salary regardless of their gender, stamping out sexism in the workplace and tackling issues such as maternity leave and child-related benefits are key to encouraging females to enter the property sector and achieving equality, balance and harmony in the industry.
At Found Associates, we are committed to this approach both in the past and moving forwards. Historically, we’ve enjoyed a 50/50 split between men and women in our office, while at present, the ratio stands at 80/20 in favour of women. We also currently have both one male and one female director in place. In this respect, we aim to lead by example with regards to workplace equality by being the change that we all wish to see on a national and international scale.