A series of free workshops is taking place in August in the London Borough of Hackney with the aim of attracting more young women to a career in the construction industry.
The workshop project, which is called WOWO (Workwomen), is part of an outreach programme by Orkidstudio, an organisation aiming for “social change through building” by working in communities to encourage local people to learn skills in architecture, design and construction. These hands-on workshops are hosted by female mentors and are being run to challenge male domination in the industry and are open to young women aged 14 to 21.
“We want to support women in the construction industry,” says Anna Webster, a designer at Orkidstudio and one of the creators of WOWO alongside Kerry Edwards. “These workshops are a way for us to get to know the young women, mentors and others involved so their feedback can inform our future programme. It was tricky finding female mentors, particularly in the trades as these sectors are so male-dominated, but our mentors are not only talented professionals but are all active in promoting women in construction.”
On Tuesday 14 August, an engineering workshop takes place under the guidance of structural engineers Anna Beckett and Rosie Mounsey of Webb Yates. Beckett is a STEM ambassador and has lectured for Oxford Brookes School of Architecture, as well as tutoring students in architecture at the University of Kent and UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture. Mounsey worked projects including the London 2012 Olympics’ Aquatics Centre, Canary Wharf Crossrail, and Kuwait International Airport during her degree.
The following week, on Tuesday 21 August, Martina Mina and Nic McEwan host a carpentry workshop which will include a design session and building a bench/play structure that will be part of an exhibition later this year. Mina is a design and construction project leader for youth charity Build Up and she has experience in architecture, urban design and playground building. McEwan was a secondary school English teacher who switched being a designer and she will complete her MA in Landscape Architecture at UEL this year.
Webster adds: “The workshops are a great opportunity to learn new skills, build networks and discover the careers available for women in construction. Hackney’s deputy mayor, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, comments: “Young women can feel there are barriers to working in STEM, from not having any role models who work in these careers to having misconceptions about what jobs entail. It’s crucial we do things like this so we can support the next generation of women.”