Ireland’s construction sector is “missing out on much-needed female talent”

The construction sector in Ireland must improve gender diversity if it is to tackle the industry-wide skills shortage, according to integrated infrastructure services firm AECOM.

The current gender imbalance, with men accounting for more than 90% of the sector’s employees1, means construction is “missing out on much-needed female talent”, the company warns.

More than 50 key decision-makers from Irish property construction and property companies recently attended an AECOM workshop to explore ways of improving the sector’s gender diversity, with speakers including Liz O’Donnell, columnist, diversity advocate and former Minister of State; Claire Solon, President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and Head of Property at Friends First; and Nicola Gillen, Director and Global Practice Leader for Strategy Plus at AECOM.


AECOM is calling for urgent, positive action to encourage more women to pursue careers within the industry. While work in construction is not gender-specific, many women still view the industry as a ‘male’ profession. The company warns that entrenched stereotypes are “limiting the talent pool”, with many women dismissing construction as a career path. AECOM believes employers will need to think more creatively to dispel common misperceptions if they are to attract the best female talent.

John O’Regan, Director – Programme Cost Consultancy, Ireland, AECOM, said: “Ireland’s construction and property sector is missing out on much-needed female talent. Given the current skills shortage in the property and construction sector, companies that demonstrate their commitment to a diverse workforce will attract the most talented and forward-looking employees. The sector’s failure to inspire more women to consider a career in construction is unnecessarily limiting the talent pool.”

AECOM is calling for the construction and property sector in Ireland to reduce the gender gap by developing and implementing diversity strategies that encourage more women to build their careers in the industry. It is urging employers to learn from other sectors of the economy where imbalances have been successfully challenged through packages of complementary measures, from gender-neutral job descriptions to long-term mentoring programmes. AECOM’s own recruitment strategy focuses on raising the profile of its female employees to help encourage others into the profession. The company also provides unconscious bias training and makes sure that women are involved in decisions about who should be promoted into senior roles.

At the AECOM workshop, held in Dublin earlier this month, industry leaders discussed a range of subjects including female leadership traits, pay gap monitoring and the role of mentoring programmes.

1 Central Statistics Office report, This is Ireland, Highlights from Census 2011 part 2