International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week

Today marks International Women’s Day 2022 sitting in the middle of Women in Construction Week (6-12 March) which strives to encourage the next generation of women to enter construction, when discrimination and a lack of equality remain prominent industry challenges.

Women currently only make up around 11% of construction industry professionals across the UK. The face of the construction industry is slowly changing as more and more women play vital roles in the industry, none more so than at Stonewood where diversity is one of the company’s watchwords.

Chief Operating Officer; Ben Lang celebrates the fact that women are a familiar sight in its offices and on construction sites – and their ambition to progress and have a say is matched by the company.

 “We have some really strong women throughout the business, at senior management level, knocking on the door of board level and we have others coming up through the ranks, both site and office based,” he said.

“The great thing about construction is that is does attract people from all backgrounds and academic levels. With the right attitude and work ethic anyone can flourish and be absolutely brilliant.”

That attitude is evidenced by the young women rising through the group’s ranks and showing ambition to climb higher.

Claire Graham joined Stonewood Builders in March 2020 as a Project Assistant at its Castle Carey office. She graduated with a first in Summer 2021 after completing a two-year part-time Quantity Surveying degree at UWE in Bristol.

She says: “My role involves dealing with clients regularly, visiting sites and meeting with site managers, working with the programming and procurement, delivering valuations and making sure the client is happy.

“It has been interesting learning how to deliver news that clients don’t necessarily want to hear in the best possible way to keep the relationship good. I really try to make them feel that I’m here to make the project work.

“I’ve had a lot of support in this, we have some amazing Contract Managers and Quantity Surveyors who have taught me how just phrasing things in a different way can be really beneficial depending on the client’s personality because no two are the same.”

She says one other thing she has enjoyed has been increasing her construction knowledge through meetings with Site Managers and Contractors. “Learning the technical detail is something I’ve enjoyed and every project is so different. I’ve had to get to know modern techniques but also those that were around in Georgian times when we are renovating older buildings like The Priory at Tetbury.”

She says she is thriving in the supportive atmosphere at Stonewood and is relishing the prospect of adding to her experience as a quantity surveyor. “As a team we all work together, it’s a challenge but it is a great job and I’m learning all the time,” she says.

Jodie Wood joined Stonewood Builders five years ago after completing a physics degree and confesses that she knew very little about the construction industry at the time.

Her role was a forerunner of the company’s project assistants, helping project managers with healthy and safety and, later, liaising with clients, sub-contractors and suppliers. Jodie was determined to develop her knowledge and skills to make her more effective in her role as quickly as possible.

“I would talk to everyone to find out more about what they were doing and go out to sites as often as I could,” she says. “I would ask site managers, my colleagues, even the contractors. Everyone was very helpful.”

Within six months she had taken on some of the Quantity Surveying work on projects when one had not been assigned. “The project manager I worked with got me involved in the financial side, it was a nice stepping-stone from project assistant and on to junior QS so I was quite fortunate to get that opportunity,” she says. “I always wanted to go further in the role and learn more.

“I’ve always been interested in the figures side of the job and I enjoy the construction world, so the QS role is a mixture of both. You get to go out on site and see what it being built while seeing the financial side of it at the same time.”

Her continual thirst for more knowledge and responsibility marked her out as a future QS so Stonewood sponsored her through a three-year degree course at UWE – she is now in her final year. She is now working full-time as a junior quantity surveyor and enjoying the challenges it brings.

“The role is all about controlling the main costs on the job and tracking where they are going out, managing the sub-contractors and placing the right orders,” she says. “I enjoy dealing with the sub-contractors and going out to get competitive prices. The main challenge is to make sure we are profitable on a job.”

Her ambitions are to complete her degree and keep developing in her role and taking on more responsibility. “I want to work on the bigger jobs and keep adding to my experience,” she says. “I have been very lucky that Stonewood have always been very supportive and my colleagues have been great.”