YEP welcomes opportunities to collaborate with other groups in the industry that enrich our events programme and provide members with access to more future leaders and big hitters across the industry. Katy Robinson, founder of NAWIC Yorkshire and Senior Project Manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and Sinéad Clarkson, Co-Chair of NAWIC Yorkshire and Quantity Surveyor at PH Plasterers, tell us more about their organisation.
NAWIC Yorkshire, also known as the National Association of Women in Construction Yorkshire Region, was founded in February 2022, with the aims of encouraging individuals to pursue, establish and sustain successful careers in the built environment sector.
In pursuit of these objectives, the NAWIC Yorkshire committee have developed the ‘School 2 Site’ programme, which has since been successfully replicated across other NAWIC regions. The School 2 Site programme introduces young, female students to the construction industry through an interactive site visit and activity day, hosted by some of the largest and most high-profile construction projects in the region.
After attending several school events on behalf of NAWIC Yorkshire, it was clear to the committee that there is a reluctance from female students to discuss topics such as construction, when surrounded with their male peers. This issue was discussed by the committee and the School 2 Site initiative was subsequently created. The initiative allows female students to visit a typically male-dominated environment, accompanied by female construction staff. This allows the female students to have more confidence and freedom to ask questions about the industry, without the fear of judgement from the other students. By utilising female construction staff in our visits, we provide the students with visible, female role models, which are essential in STEM industries and subjects.
There is significant benefit to students, and the programme has received brilliant reviews following the events from both students and teachers. In addition to this, the School 2 Site programme provides benefits for the contractors, including: meeting social value targets, involvement with local schools and the community, and exposure to potential future employees.
In 2022, we hosted School 2 Site visits at 11 Wellington Place with Wates Group, and Points Cross with United Living. The events hosted students from a number of schools across Yorkshire, and both received positive reviews. The main takeaways that the students noted in their reviews were that they learned about the different roles and trades in the construction industry, and that not all jobs within construction are solely site based.
Construction is generally not an industry which is promoted to female students by theirs careers advisors and teachers, primarily due to their lack of knowledge and understanding of the sector and the careers opportunities available. With this initiative, we aim to educate not only the students, but also their teachers too.
As most people are aware, the built environment sector is heavily male dominated, with women accounting for only 10-15% of construction professionals. Our School 2 Site programme aims to tackle this statistic, by educating students and teachers on the careers in the sector and providing female students with a safe environment to ask questions and advice from female construction professionals. The overall aim is to create a more gender-diverse industry for the future.
In addition to our School 2 Site programme, NAWIC Yorkshire run several other projects which aim to support women in the construction industry. We recently launched our regional WhatsApp group, which gives students and established professionals alike the opportunity to network, share CPD events, discuss issues within the industry, and access peer support when needed. In 2022, we also undertook research on imposter syndrome within women in the built environment sector. We published the results as a report on our website and our social media accounts, ensuring maximum visibility for the statistics in the hope of encouraging businesses in the sector to take action to prevent and reduce the impact of imposter syndrome for their employees.
On 6 September, YEP Leeds and NAWIC Yorkshire will host a sold out Summer Quiz event.