The property and construction industries are perceived to be among the least diverse sectors to work in, with a worrying 29% of young women believing that the industry is purely for men.
According to a new YouGov survey commissioned by RICS, the industries perceived as most diverse are retail and health, with law and construction cited as the least.
“Speaking as a woman in construction, I can say with confidence that this is not just a job for boys; however, the need for diversity at the very top is clear,” said RICS President Amanda Clack. “When I first entered the profession there were no strong female role models.
“Yet, according to our survey, a quarter of young women believe they will do better under the leadership of a female CEO and they want to see visible female role models.”
The rise of female political leaders may give young women the inspiration they’re looking for. While 41% of young women aged 13–22 believe their gender will hold them back in the workplace, they claim that the rise of female leaders, such as Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon and Hilary Clinton, could help to change sexist attitudes and encourage workplace diversity.
43% of young women believe that having a female Prime Minister or President will encourage gender diversity at work. Of those surveyed, 73% believe that the attitudes and behavior of CEOs and senior leaders are important in encouraging equal numbers of men and women.
“Strong female roles models will help to attract greater diversity into the industry because the more we celebrate individual success, the more surmountable barriers become,” said Clack. “With a female Prime Minister in the UK and a woman in the running for the US Presidency, we are seeing great female role models at the very highest levels.”
While almost half of young women believed that their gender would count against them in the workplace, young men seem to think differently, with 20% saying that they expect to earn more in their careers than their female counterparts.
In response to the survey, RICS CEO Sean Tompkins has taken a pledge to drive gender equality in this sector and to question speaking on panels that are not diverse or representative.