The UK has the lowest representation of women working in construction, of any European country, particularly in engineering roles, with just 8.5% of engineers women.
Almost a third of Crossrail Ltd jobs, Europe’s largest infrastructure project, are filled by women, compared to just 20% of job roles across the UK construction industry.
Despite being an exciting career, the UK has the lowest representation of women engineers of any European country, making up just 8.5% of the workforce.
Women at Crossrail
At Crossrail, we are committed to doing all we can to make construction an exciting and attractive career option for women. Our Equality Strategy prioritises actions for creating a culture where everyone feels inspired and valued to deliver a world-class railway and to leave a legacy for advancing diversity within the construction industry.
Women workers are still a minority in the UK construction sector, representing only 1 per cent of craft and trade occupations, and 11 per cent of those in the construction industry as a whole. Women form 29 per cent of Team Crossrail, and women working across our sites represent 12 per cent of the supply chain.
To meet the unprecedented demand for new engineering skills required in the UK over the next six years, the sector needs to double the number of people with engineering qualifications – something that cannot be achieved without attracting many more women to the sector.
Crossrail women in engineering profiles
Olivia Perkins, Tunnel Engineer - Crossrail Tottenham Court Road station
“It’s an inspiring industry to be a part of because everything you do is really tangible – you can see your output on site. I’ll always remember that I was a part of something that thousands, even millions, of people will be using for years and years to come…”
Samar Bedran, Field Civil Engineer - Eastern Running Tunnels
Rebecca Hughes, Apprentice Site Engineer - Crossrail Paddington Station
"It’s hard to imagine a point in time when I will be able to walk through Paddington station without feeling a sense of pride and achievement, because, despite being a very small cog in an enormous wheel, I have been afforded the chance to be a part of an experience which would usually be a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Charlotte Franklin, Tunnel Boring Machine & Control Room Engineer
Gallery - The women helping to build Crossrail
Crossrail partners with Women into Construction
To address workforce gender diversity, Crossrail partnered with Women into Construction, an independent, not-for-profit organisation, originally created as part of the London 2012 employment strategy. It aims to recruit women into all areas of construction, from entry level trades roles through to professional construction placements.
The partnership worked with Crossrail and its supply chain to create work experience and employment opportunities for more women on the project. Women into Construction re-located to Crossrail’s headquarters in Canary Wharf where office space was provided free of charge. This allowed even greater collaboration with Crossrail’s own employability and education teams including the job brokerage service which worked in partnership with JobCentre Plus and Young Crossrail.
The scheme was funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
Narges Afshari - Ground Settlement Engineer, Dragados, Crossrail Eastern Running Tunnels
Narges gained a BSc and MSc in Geology in her native Iran, and worked for 3 years experience analysing rock formations before being granted asylum in the UK and finding work as a shop assistant in a high street bakery.
Women into Construction helped Narges gain her Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Health & Safety card and secured her a work-placement with Dragados. Impressed by her skills and enthusiasm, Dragados offered her a permanent role as a ground settlement engineer, examining ground conditions around the Crossrail tunnels in Canning Town.
Narges said: “'I'm enjoying my work, my colleagues are friendly and supportive and I'm really pleased to be using my degree and developing my knowledge on such an interesting project. This has changed my life.”
Shamain Dillon - Health and Safety Assistant, Morgan Sindall, Crossrail Pudding Mill Lane
After completing a Level 2 Multi-skills apprenticeship, Shamain knew she loved working in construction and decided that she would like to move into the Health and Safety side of the industry.
Women into Construction found Shamain a work placement with Morgan Sindall on Crossrail’s Pudding Mill Lane project. On completion of the placement was offered a paid position as a Health and Safety Assistant.
Shamain said: “I found the work-placement interesting and exciting, and was really pleased when they offered me a job at the end of it. I’m enjoying the work, and looking forward to developing my career in construction.”
Richard Pollard, Morgan Sindall’s Project Director on the C350 Pudding Mill Lane Portal project, said: “We are pleased to welcome Shamain as a permanent member of staff. The Women in Construction scheme is very employer friendly and without this charity, promising young people like Shamain may not be recognised, which would be the construction industry’s loss.”
Michelle Umagho – Ukueku - Health and Safety Advisor, Crossrail Limited, Canary Wharf
Michelle spent nine years working in the social housing sector before being made being made redundant. She decided to transfer her experience and skills to the construction industry but without practical experience and relevant qualifications it was difficult to find work.
Women into Construction helped Michelle achieve the qualifications and knowledge required to move into the construction industry, and then secured a work placement with Crossrail Ltd.
Michelle said: “Women into Construction helped me get the right qualifications, and gave me the confidence and skills to apply for the health and safety [work experience] role with Crossrail.”
Pamela McInroy, Crossrail’s Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, said: “Michelle’s desire to work in construction has been inspiring. She is enthusiastic, energetic and incredibly eager to learn and absorb as much about not only the Crossrail project, but our Health and Safety programme. It’s been a pleasure to have Michelle work for our team and for other advisors across the project.”
Stamatia Kantziari - Monitoring and Surveyor, Morgan Sindall, Whitechapel
Stamatia studied Civil Engineering at Brighton University, and approached Women into Construction during her final year for support finding employment on completion of her degree.
Women into Construction helped Stamatia gain her Construction Skills Safety Certificate qualification, and secured her a 6 week work placement with Morgan Sindall at the Crossrail Whitechapel site. Stamatia enjoyed the placement hugely and learnt how to apply the skills she had learnt in university to a working construction site. Morgan Sindall was equally pleased and offered her a permanent position on the project.
Stamatia said: “Women into Construction helped me to gain a work-placement and then a paid job on Crossrail, Europe's largest construction project. It's my first working experience in the UK and I'm really enjoying it. Everyone is very helpful. I've had the chance to apply the knowledge and skills that I learnt in university, as well as developing new skills. I am really happy to have started my engineering career on such an exciting project.
Justyna Wsol, Civil Engineer, Ferrovial, Farringdon
Justyna trained as a Civil Engineer with over two year’s experience working for a major contractor in Poland where she was responsible for supervising projects, such as bridges and roads.
Justyna moved from Poland to the UK in 2013 and held several customer-facing roles, which strengthened her communication and interpersonal skills. She was keen to utilize her construction skills and approached WIC for work experience opportunities. Justyna was invited for an interview for a work-placement with Ferrovial and was instead offered a paid role.
Justyna said: “I really appreciate all the work which Women in Construction did for me to get a job and I would like to say a huge thank you!”