Land and planning director, Andrea Fortune, studied Planning Studies at university followed by a Diploma in Town Planning. After graduating, Andrea worked in a planning consultancy before joining Sefton Council on a planning assistant scheme.
Andrea said: “In my experience in the planning world there has always been a good mix of both men and women but networking events for some reason were historically very male orientated. At my first job, I worked underneath a female managing partner who was a strong role model for me and I was heavily influenced by her. It was when I crossed over from the council to working in the construction industry when I saw less of a balance of males and females, but it is getting better.
“I think there is a lot of influence out there that teaches girls that they have to be perfect at what they do, and I think this carries over into applying for jobs or choosing a career path. Women often won’t apply unless they think they’re 100% a perfect match to the job role, whereas I think men tend to apply and give things a go. When I joined Kingswood it was a real leap of faith and I was working with sales, site and commercial teams which was so different to my pure planning background at the time. If no one is brave enough to try new things, things will never move forward.”
This years’ theme is #EmbraceEquity and this means that to recognise that each person has different circumstances but, with the correct resources and opportunities, there can be an equal outcome to become whatever they want to be.
Sales director Lesley Myers has worked in the industry for almost 30 years and says when she started out it very much felt like the sales people were all women and those on site were male: “This is changing now and we are seeing more of a balance of males and females in the industry across all roles and it’s nice to see more women trades too.
“Women are good multitaskers and give another point of view on things like house designs and features and what would and wouldn’t work. For any young girls or women thinking about joining the industry, they can expect to always be learning and evolving. There is so much opportunity out there so it’s an industry that should definitely be considered.”
Quantity surveyor Kim Bates studied Fiscal Geography at Nottingham University before doing her Masters in Environmental Science. She then went back to university to do another degree in Quantity Surveying after deciding that was the career route she wanted to take.
She says: “I think if I saw more female representation in the construction industry while I was at school, I would have gone into the industry straight away. Instead, I did a degree in Geography because that’s what I enjoyed at school and then a masters thinking that would guide me into a career. It was only after doing some work experience at Kingswood that I realised quantity surveying was what I could see myself doing. It would have been good to know it was an option and to know that being in the industry didn’t just mean being out on site. One of the best things about being in construction is that there are so many facets to it and you’re not just pigeon-holed into one job.”
Architect Hannah Marsden believes that college and university courses should include site visits as part of the curriculum to introduce women to being on a site: “Just like an apprenticeship where you spend some time in the classroom and the other part physically learning the trade, other courses such as architecture and quantity surveying should include visits to sites. You can’t do all your learning from a text book and I think development sites can be a daunting place but then how else will students get a real feel for a career they could be in for the rest of their lives? I think being introduced to as many different career options is key and that’s why being out on site and seeing all the various roles is important.”