The construction industry is still the leading source of self-employment in the UK accounting for nearly a million businesses. However the latest figures from a survey by AXA show that the number of women in the industry remains incredibly low.
The results of the survey revealed that construction worker’s take home was on average 15% higher than that of a self-employed professional, and 37% more than in the retail or services industries.
Start-up tradesmen in the sector made a profit fastest too, usually within the first three months. Also, 71% of tradesmen go full-time within a year, compared to 55% of professionals.
Given these impressive statistics, the survey question why only 5.2% of the industry are women.
Reasons for this may include longer hours worked outside the home may make the trades less attractive for younger women who are juggling childcare with their work.
The tradition of a son following in his father’s footsteps and taking over a family business is another explanation – with 10% of tradespeople inheriting their businesses.
Traditional routes into the trades such as apprenticeships or on the job training are outside the education system and are also thought to be less attractive to young girls.
Darrell Sansom, Managing Director, AXA Business Insurance said: “This means the trades are rarely promoted to girls when they are making their career choices, even though training to be a plumber or electrician could be as good –if not a better – option than university for many.
Mr Samson said that the media’s emphasis of ‘cowboy builders’ was rarely balanced with positive stories, meaning that 72% of women surveyed found that believed this “deeply unfair” representation to be an accurate one.
He said: “There is an economic side to this too, which is every bit as important as getting more women onto FTSE 100 boards. The government pledged a million new homes and £500Bn investment in infrastructure projects by 2020 – that’s a huge part of our economic life for women to miss out on. It is hoped there will be more encouragement for small firms, led by both men and women, to benefit from these opportunities.”