Flying the Flag for Women in Construction

Apprentice Plumber Georgie Chaplin and Assistant Site Manager Chelsey Richards are busy developing their careers in the construction industry - working on the 1000 unit Monksmoor Park housing development in Daventry, Northampton.

In conjunction with site developer Crest Nicholson, Fusion21’s Social Value through Planning offer is ensuring that target outcomes are being delivered - by creating and driving opportunities on the development.

We caught up with 21-year-old Georgie and 25-year-old Chelsey who are proud to be flying the flag for women working in construction. Read on to hear about their experience of getting on the career ladder and working on-site.

Q1: What made you seek a career in construction?

Georgie: I’ve always been interested in plumbing; my dad runs his own plumbing and drainage company so it’s always been something I’ve known. When I began to look into career choices my mind was made up and I decided to concentrate on this when I started college - and I haven’t looked back.

Chelsey:  I initially wanted to be a hairdresser but at school we were encouraged to think about different career options - and its here that my interest grew in construction.

I remember making a Dove tail box in my design and technology class with a hinge lid – I felt so proud that I had a final product in front of me which I had created! I also found myself sitting and watch the bricklaying classes, instead of doing my textile work so I decided to ask my teacher about a career in construction.

After carrying out some work experience with Connells, I had my heart set on becoming a site manager.

Q2: What is the best bit of your job?

Georgie: I enjoy learning different things everyday and I love being able to see the results of my hard work. I also take great pride in showing my dad that I can do what he does – although he wasn’t too keen on my having a career in construction at first!

Chelsey: For me I feel reallyproud to be a woman working in construction but I think there is still a lack of female representation in the sector.

Q3: What have you found most challenging?

Georgie: I sometimes find the heavy lifting quite challenging, such as carrying the shower trays - and finding an apprenticeship in itself was a challenge; however with Fusion21’s support, Moulton College (where I was studying) was able to highlight local site opportunities which can be difficult to come by.

Chelsey: I’d say having to prove that we are just as capable as the males working in the industry is the most challenging aspect. The construction industry is very heavily male dominated; therefore by being a woman working in construction I am hoping to change these perceptions.

Q4: How do you think more women could be encouraged to work in construction?

Chelsey: In my opinionthere needs to be more information available to females about the possibilities and available careers within the construction trade. The sector is definitely still male dominated and I’d like to see this career become more of the ‘norm’ for women. We can all learn from each other, so I’d encourage local schools and colleges to showcase the benefits of working in the construction industry to women, arranging for young people to listen to the experiences of women who have chosen this career path.

Q5: Would you recommend other women to follow your career path?

Georgie: Definitely, the possibilities and career progression within construction is endless and always evolving – and there is huge satisfaction in us being able to have this as a viable career option. Like any other career, you need to focus and work hard so you can reap the rewards.

Q6: How do you feel Fusion21 and Crest have supported your career?

Chelsey: Fusion21 have always had a presence on this site and it’s with your support that we’ve been able to obtain these opportunities – we’re so grateful!

Georgie:  It’s fantastic knowing that we have had the right help and support to get on the construction career ladder.  I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for the apprenticeship and work experience opportunities I’ve been given.

Q7: What would you say to future generations of women who want to get into construction?

Chelsey: You need to be willing and not be scared, there are so many different types of careers within construction; office based site management, quantity surveying, civil engineering, account management, or hands on roles like plumbing.  The horizons are so vast and the job is well paid, which is definitely a good incentive!

There is so much scope to move around within the industry as long as you’re good at your job. I love my job as an assistant site manager and I am looking forward to running my own site soon.

Georgie: Although it can be daunting at first, you’ll soon realise it’s the best decision you will make. I find it frustrating that many girls think this trade is just for boys, but the stigma is changing and it’ll only get better with more of us coming through. Age isn’t a factor; you can start at whichever level you want, at any age and work up to become whatever you want to be. I cannot wait to continue, to become a fully qualified plumber and being able to be my own boss.