Women are being encouraged to consider a career in construction by local housebuilder Linden Homes.
The housebuilder, which is part of the newly-formed Vistry Group, employs women in three senior roles within its East Midlands division.
Samantha Gillingham is site manager at Hastings Gardens in Blunham, Bedfordshire, while Elaine Mumby and Fiona Millar are both assistant site managers – Elaine at Springfields in Deeping St James, Lincolnshire, and Fiona at Falcons Lodge in Cardington, Bedfordshire.
Samantha (51), who joined Vistry Group in July last year, has spent her working life in the property industry and has seen a significant change in terms of how women are treated in construction during that time.
She said: “I’ve always worked in property. I learnt to paint doors when I was about seven years old and I used to help my parents out when they would renovate and flip houses.
“I worked in sales and I remember getting frustrated with site managers, so I decided to go for the job myself. I remember getting in contact with an agency when I was looking for a job on site and I was told that I wouldn’t be a good fit because I am a woman.
“I had to convince them that I would be able to hold my own in a construction job and I think that’s something I’ve had to do all my career; prove my worth.
“I think especially in the last five years, there’s been a lot more vocalisation about the subject which has improved things massively.
“I think the impression that women get of working on a construction site is that it might be a scary place to work and they may feel uncomfortable, but the camaraderie you get with your workmates is amazing and I’ve gained a few long-term friendships.”
Similarly, Fiona (34) feels that the way the construction industry has traditionally been perceived from the outside shouldn’t stop other women from pursuing a fulfilling job in the field.
She said: “What I’ve found at Vistry Group is that as long as you turn up with the right attitude and ready to do your job properly then it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.
“It can feel a bit daunting when you first start out – I didn’t have a clue what to expect when I first started, but you find out quickly that if you put in the effort, then you will get noticed.
“Now that I am an assistant site manager, I am in charge of a lot of people to make sure the work is done well and in the right order. I have a good team behind me and that back me up and I don’t feel like the fact that I am a woman affects my job.”
Elaine (35) has worked for Vistry Group for nearly two years after initially starting her career off as an interior designer.
She said: “I originally studied interior design at Leeds College of Art and Design and from then worked designing bars and interiors. I then moved to work for a small building company where I was office based and worked in customer care.
“I chose to move to Linden Homes to work for a bigger company and also to take on a role that gets me out of the office and onto the site, where I can fix issues that I was hearing about whilst doing my old customer care job myself.”
Robert Spittles, Production Director of Vistry Group East Midlands, said: “We not only welcome but encourage diversity at all levels of our company and it’s great to see Elaine, Fiona and Samantha having successful careers in our organisation.
“All three produce great work for their respective sites on a daily basis and I am looking forward to seeing them continue to utilise their skills at Vistry Group for years to come. I hope other women will be inspired by their stories to consider a job in the construction industry for themselves.”