Exploring gender differences between UK construction workers with respect to Health and Safety in the workplace and how this can be a barrier for women entering the construction industry.

  • Millie Bligh
Keywords: Barrier, Career, Demand, Female, Gender, Health and Safety, Male, Masculine, Physical, Risk, Attitudes


Males have long dominated the UK construction industry stemming from generations of conventional attitudes and these discrepancies across various construction sectors, genders, and ages are investigated in this study. Encouraging female construction workers may lead to larger economic benefits and change current attitudes and preconceptions, while increasing public awareness of gender inequity in construction may affect public health. This study aims to investigate gender differences in workplace health and safety among UK construction workers and how this may act as a barrier to women entering the industry. Data was acquired through an anonymous online questionnaire with 91 respondents (85 male and 6 female). The data collected from respondents was analysed to explore similarities and differences between genders in terms of legislation, experiences, attitudes, and opinions regarding this matter. The findings showed that males believed the most common reason for the lack of females in the industry was due to a physical disadvantage, whereas females believed it was due to a lack of respect for women and malicious banter within the industry. Male and female attitudes differed in terms of attitudes toward health and safety. Males displayed more negative attitudes towards their experiences working with health and safety while females displayed more rational choices, and awareness around health and safety legislation. These differences could act as a barrier for women entering the industry as their more rational attitudes to health and safety are not seen as complying with the norm. Males generally dominate higher-risk jobs due to cultural standards, which research suggests could be related to the physical and mental strain of the professions which place males at a biological advantage. However, females' typical tendency to express more reasonable and sympathetic attitudes towards health and safety in this study might imply that they are more invested in not making mistakes than men which could be a benefit in lowering risk in health and safety-related occupations. Furthermore, encouraging women to work in these industries could provide role models for future generations - opening greater career opportunities for the next generation of women whilst helping to meet the construction industry's continued demand for labour. The study findings suggest a clear need for employees in the UK construction industry, as well as the general public, to be educated regarding gender inequalities in the industry and how they can affect women's career prospects. Overall, this would result in better workplace health and safety for men and women in construction careers and more women pursuing their preferred vocations.