UKCW London: 7-9 May | ExCeL
UKCW Birmingham: 1-3 October | NEC


04 Mar 2024



In an industry traditionally dominated by men, six exceptional women are challenging norms and reshaping the narrative. From breaking down gender barriers to fostering inclusivity and sustainability, these leaders are at the forefront of transformative change. This article explores the stories of these inspirational women, shedding light on their impactful contributions, innovative approaches and the positive change they are driving in the UK construction industry.


Barbara Akinkunmi - Founder of Girls Under Construction


(Photo credit: Barbara Akinkunmi – LinkedIn)

Barbara Akinkunmi is the visionary founder of Girls Under Construction, an initiative dedicated to empowering young girls and breaking down gender barriers in construction. With a passion for fostering change, Barbara has tirelessly worked to create a supportive platform that encourages girls to pursue careers and interests traditionally dominated by males. Through Girls Under Construction, she provides mentorship, educational resources and a community where girls can thrive and break free from societal expectations. Barbara's commitment to challenging stereotypes and promoting diversity is evident in her efforts to inspire the next generation of female leaders.

Her strong commitment and creative efforts to empower girls and change societal norms make her a powerful influence, setting a great example for the next generation of female leaders.

In recognition of her contributions to the construction industry, Barbara was named as the winner of the UK Construction Week Role Model 2023 Awards in Birmingham last year.


Michaela Wain - BBC The Apprentice Finalist, Ambassador for Women in Construction, Owner of 5 Construction related Companies


(Photo credit: CIOB People)

Michaela Wain, a finalist on BBC's The Apprentice, emerged as an influential figure in the construction industry. Going beyond her performance on the competition, she has taken on a crucial role as an advocate for women in the construction industry. Actively promoting inclusivity and diversity, Michaela endeavours to break down gender barriers and inspire individuals, especially women, to pursue their ambitions in this traditionally male-dominated sector.

In addition to her advocacy, she displays string entrepreneurial skills by owning and managing five construction-related companies. Michaela Wain's story is marked by resilience, determination and strong leadership, making her an influential role model for those navigating the complexities of the construction business.


Kelly Cartwright - Owner, Core Recruiter Ltd


(Photo credit: Richard Jarmy Photography)

As the owner of Core Recruiter Ltd, Kelly Cartwright is playing a crucial role in the recruitment and human resources sector. Her strategic leadership has been integral to the success of Core Recruiter Ltd, particularly in the areas of talent acquisition and effective workforce management. Under her ownership, the company has earned a reputation as a dependable partner for businesses seeking skilled staff in the construction sector.

Kelly actively nurtures professional relationships and stays informed about industry trends, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of the recruitment landscape. She is an insightful leader as she truly believes that it’s only by people like herself talking about the need for diversity in the construction industry that representation will improve.


Rebecca Lovelace - Founder of Building People CIC


(Photo credit: Diversity Network)

Rebecca Lovelace, the Founder of Building People CIC, has made significant contributions to the construction industry through her leadership of the transformative platform Building People CIC. The platform, under her direction, functions as a comprehensive resource aiming to simplify access to career opportunities, facilitate connectivity within the sector and address issues of under-representation.

Lovelace's strategic guidance has been instrumental in expanding talent pools and promoting inclusivity within the construction field. The platform serves as a central hub for networking, knowledge-sharing and collaboration among professionals in the construction industry. Rebecca Lovelace's commitment to enhancing accessibility and connectivity underscores her role as a key influencer in shaping the future dynamics of the construction sector.


Emma Nicholson - Founding Director of Women in Sustainable Construction and Property


(Photo credit: Emma Nicholson - LinkedIn)

Emma Nicholson, the Founding Director of Women in Sustainable Construction and Property, is a driving force behind the organisation's mission to advocate for gender equality and sustainability in the construction and property sectors. As a visionary leader, Emma has dedicated herself to breaking down barriers and empowering women within these industries. Women in Sustainable Construction and Property stands as a beacon for fostering inclusivity, promoting equal opportunities and encouraging the active participation of women professionals.

The organisation is committed to creating a supportive network where women can thrive, share experiences and contribute to the advancement of sustainable practices within the construction and property fields. Emma's leadership showcases a commitment to fostering positive change by encouraging collective efforts to shape a future for the industry that is more diverse, equitable and environmentally conscious.


Roni Savage - CEO & Founder of Jomas Associates


(Photo credit: Jomas Associates)

Roni Savage is the CEO and Founder of Jomas Associates, a Geotechnical Environmental and Engineering business established in 2009, operating in the UK construction sector. In an industry with a notable lack of female representation, Roni's leadership at Jomas Associates stands out. Her success has been recognised not only through the company's achievements but also with personal accolades. In 2019, Roni received the Construction News Inspire Me Award, highlighting her inspirational role for women in the construction field and was subsequently named Most Influential Woman in Construction in 2022.

She also holds esteemed titles, including being an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Chartered Geologist and SiLC (Specialist in Land Condition). Being a passionate diversity champion, she often campaigns for matters internationally, such as diversity in business, engineering and construction.


Initiatives like Girls Under Construction, encouraging young girls to explore careers in construction, and organisations such as Jomas Associates and Women in Sustainable Construction and Property, among others on this list, dedicated to leadership and sustainability in the sector, play crucial roles as driving forces for positive change in the construction industry.

Beyond their professional endeavours, these women are passionate advocates for empowering females and increasing their engagement in the construction world.

UK Construction Week provides an exclusive platform to connect with influential figures, learn from their experiences and actively contribute to collaborative efforts for positive change within the construction sector.

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