With women comprising under 20% of the directly employed construction workforce, Izabella Platts has launched her career in the industry, profiling the agenda to promote women in construction.
As a result of winning the Gleeds’ sponsored Women in the Built Environment initiative at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Izabella Platts joined Gleeds on a short term summer placement last year. After a successful and impressive ten weeks, Izabella was offered a long-term employment opportunity, allowing her to complete her degree part-time while working for Gleeds.
Izabella was also recently shortlisted as a top 10 finalist at the Target Jobs UK Undergraduate of the Year Awards, in the Construction and Engineering Undergraduate category.
Here Izabella shares with us her views on winning the university initiative, her future opportunities at Gleeds and what it means for a young female to be working in the construction industry.
Why did you decide to enter the Women in the Built Environment at your university?
The fact that the winner of the initiative gained a short placement at Gleeds was a big pull for me. Gleeds is highly recognised by the university and has a strong track record of recruiting high achieving students. I always see the Gleeds logo plotted around the city of Nottingham and placement opportunities are also quite rare for first year students, so I wanted to try and make the most of the chance at hand.
What made you want to work in the construction industry?
I’ve always had a passion for buildings. The thought of having a lasting impact on the environment and future generations is something that really excites me. My studies in building surveying have only enhanced this and I’m now feeling very lucky to be working in a field that I am enthusiastic about.
Tell us about your full time role at Gleeds
I am currently working as a trainee project manager, working on a number of different projects such as the Football Foundation framework and a student accommodation in Derby. I also have a day release for my studies at university which allows me to consolidate what I am learning at work through the theory of my course.
Working at Gleeds has allowed me to get some great hands-on experience by attending progress and project meetings, which is something that cannot be learnt in the classroom. It will be hugely beneficial for my future career prospects and offers the stability of having a job at the end of university. It’s also been great to be able to earn some money while studying!
What advice would you give to other females considering a career in construction?
There have been well documented difficulties in the past for women in the industry but times are changing. My view is that the current lack of women almost creates more opportunities. The NTU initiative is a great example of this as it proves Gleeds was not a company where gender would be an issue.
I think that women approach things differently and offer a different skill set to the team they’re working with. It’s time to flip the gender ratio on its head and we can only do that by focusing on the positives.
How do you think the industry could encourage more females to take up a career in construction?
I think the steps taken to start addressing the gender pay gap are positive as it needs resolving. Overall, I think that job prospects and opportunities need to be promoted much more, targeting women at a younger age while they are still studying. It is important to bust the myths that surround females in the industry and this will come with more women taking up senior roles, which the industry definitely needs to support.
One of the highlights of being shortlisted at the Target Jobs UK Undergraduate of the Year Awards was to see that out of the top 10 finalists for the Construction and Engineering category, 8 were women. This shows that we as an industry are starting to move in the right direction.