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March 4th, 2024

Call for more women to build careers in construction

More female builders would change the dynamic of worksites and boost innovation, according to one of the region’s top women in construction.

Anna Cook-Bacon, head of partnerships at Flagship Homes, said labour shortages meant women were needed in construction more than ever.

Ms Cook-Bacon said: “It would bring new ideas and new perspectives. A more diverse workforce would mean a different way of communicating with each other – it would change the dynamic of a building site.

“Women often have different views to men and I think it’s good to have that difference of opinion.

“And we don’t have an influx of people coming onto worksites to replace those who are retiring, so now is a key time to get more women involved.”

Ms Cook-Bacon, who lives near Diss and works across the east of England, was speaking to mark Women in Construction week (March 3-9) which aims to celebrate and promote the role of women in the sector.

Although things are slowly changing, women make up just 16.3% of the sector’s workforce in the UK, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data (for October to December 2023).

Ms Cook-Bacon said the key was education, and changing the perception that trades careers were just for men.

As a child, she had never thought about going into construction because she never saw any women in the field.

A stint doing secretarial work at her grandfather’s construction firm, followed by an apprenticeship at Drayton-based R G Carter construction, set her on the path to becoming a quantity surveyor.

A quantity surveyor is a construction industry professional with expert knowledge on construction costs and contracts. They hold the purse strings throughout a project and report commercial performance against budget.

Ms Cook-Bacon now leads a team that oversees the construction of hundreds of homes a year.
She said the sector paid well, and there were plenty of opportunities for travel, career development and entrepreneurship.

She said: “I love being in this industry. It’s ever-changing and there are so many different elements you can be involved in, from architecture and engineering to groundworkers, plumbers and electricians.

“I drive past sites I was involved in 17 years ago and point them out to my children. You’re building something for the future, and leaving a legacy to be proud of.”