Construction firms urged to do more to attract women workers

A new report has urged construction firms to do more to attract women workers after it said the industry was still seen as sexist.A survey of 1,500 employers found that three out of four believed perceptions of a sexist culture were a major reason why women were under-represented.

The study by the Construction Industry Training Board - on International Women's Day - identified a lack of female role models as well as poor awareness of the types of jobs on offer.Gillian Econopouly, head of research at the CITB, said: "The industry is on course for a major comeback, but we need a dynamic and diverse workforce to help deliver it. This poll shows that construction employers realise we are still a long way from overcoming the perceptions of sexism in our sector, which potentially keep women away.

"To attract the best skills and talent from all parts of society, we are challenging industry to make women and people from all backgrounds feel welcome and valued."CITB board member Maria Pilford said: "When I joined the construction industry 20 years ago I was told by one worker that I should not be allowed on site as I was a woman. We have moved a long way from that, but there is still much to do to fully address perceptions of sexism."

Meanwhile, the Fairtrade Foundation called for more women to join organisations that grow produce such as bananas, cotton and tea around the world.Women make up almost half the agricultural workforce in developing countries but only account for around a fifth of farmers registered with Fairtrade-certified producer organisations, said a report.Women faced barriers including ownership of land, or being expected to undertake domestic work, said the foundation.

Barbara Crowther, director of policy and public affairs at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "Ensuring that women farmers have the same opportunities to participate as their male counterparts will not only increase their income and their influence, but it could also boost the bottom line for businesses and improve development outcomes for communities in some of the world's poorest countries."

In London, domestic workers will dress up as suffragettes outside Parliament as part of a campaign for decent pay and conditions.Marissa Begonia, of Justice 4 Domestic Workers, said: "Domestic workers, struggling for justice, decent pay and conditions and equality are continuing the fight that the suffragettes made so eloquently 100 years ago. Their campaign still has real relevance today."