In April 2018, all UK companies with more than 250 employees had to report details on the wage gap between male and female staff. According to these figures, the construction industry officially has the worst gender pay gap in any UK industry.  Women in construction, on average, are paid 36% less than men, with the inconsistencies between wages further heightened by the lack of women amongst the top earners. 

Although Construction has traditionally been a male-dominated business, the male/female ratio has been improving slowly; however, the sector still attracts very few women, with the figures below unlikely to improve that situation in the near future.

The new regulations brought in by the government require businesses with more than 250 employees to publish the following:

  • Their gender pay gap (mean and median)

  • Their gender bonus pay gap (mean and median)

  • Proportion of men and women receiving a bonus

  • Proportion of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay structure.

We now know that eight out of ten companies in the UK, as a whole, have a male dominant gender pay gap. Since mean pay gaps can be skewed by a couple of large salaries at the top of a company, much of the focus has been on the median figures, with the construction industry comparing rather unfavourably when placed beside other industries: 

The April figures were particularly surprising for those in the construction industry as, In October 2017, numbers were released by The Office for National Statistics (ONS) that suggested the median gender pay gap in construction was at 14.9%. Disappointingly, it would seem many companies were unable to report accurately to the ONS, as the most recent results from April (that were enforced by legislation), have shown that the median gender pay gap in construction is actually 10% higher at 24.9%. Fortunately, it would seem that this previously inaccurate reporting has done nothing but reinforce the argument for regular, legislated reporting on gender pay gap figures, so as to increase pressures on companies with the largest pay gaps.

Many construction companies should be making a more concentrated effort to attract and retain women; with more equal gender hiring on apprenticeships and graduate schemes and flexible working arrangements etc. However, there is not (currently) a readily available pool of women to call upon to try and close the gap; especially in relation to engineering and construction. In male dominated sectors of work, sometimes companies do not offer flexible arrangements as readily as others. 

Unite People recognise that there is an under-representation of women in construction and the importance of positive action, to support and retain women wishing to work in this industry. We are currently taking our own positive steps and recognise that, as a male-dominated industry, women in construction, along with the gender pay gap, are very prominent topics of discussion. We have attended women in construction events and always make a conscious effort to source female candidates for our live vacancies; where available. We also intend on carrying out “grass root attraction” talks in secondary schools, to encourage equality and diversity within the construction industry. 

Closing the UK’s gender pay gap offers benefits for everyone. If companies make it a strong pillar to improve diversity, they can turn this potential “reputation risk” into an opportunity for positive progression.

If you’re interested in hearing more about opportunities for women in construction, or you are an employer seeking advice on recruitment, speak to a member of our team on 020 3892 7852 or email us on

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