Encouraging Women to Find A Career in Heavy Machinery

This week’s throwback journal post explores how the industry is encouraging women to find their career in the heavy machinery sector. Taken from August 2019 edition of Plant Planet Magazine.

Equal pay. Equal opportunities. Equal rights. In this day and age, both genders being treated fairly is a topic of hot discussion amongst all ages. There is nothing, or there should be nothing, that one gender can do and the other cannot. So why is it, then, in this boundary defying world, that a gender may stray from a particular job role? Is it that we fear the repercussions of the stereotypes we may face being in that role? Or does that role simply not appeal to that gender? Remembering the theme of many daily news debates, it can’t be that one gender simple cannot DO the job. When looking at old photographs, it doesn’t take long to see that women have been doing heavy jobs from the start. Think of Rosie the Riveter, a female icon of World War 2, representing women who worked in rough factories. Strong women in the field are no less iconic and important than men in the business.

The UK’s construction and heavy machinery profession is set to create over 168,000 careers before 2023. However, industry experts have said that only around 14% of workers in the heavy machinery industry are female, according to a November (2017) report from the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Within that 14%, most women work in admin-based roles. People in the world of construction and heavy machinery are working on weakening the idea that roles in the industry are male jobs.


The All Party Parliamentary for Excellence in the Built Environment announced in April of 2019 that it will examine how the recruitment and retention of more females in the profession is a required stage in acknowledging the field’s skill requirements. Rebecca Thompson FCIOB, a former President of the CIOB and Director of Thompson Heritage Consultancy, addressed the current investment in women in the profession, saying:

“I am delighted that this issue is being highlighted as it is something that needs to be addressed to improve diversity and inclusion within the construction workforce and the range of skills and experience available. As we’ve said in the response, it’s a powerful opportunity to advocate equality in the workforce, bringing expertise from other sectors and industries.”

The field being male dominated does not mean that there is no place for females in the industry. The heavy machinery industry has seen an increase in female workers over the last few years. A female trainee buyer reported that the industry is not male-dominated, and that there are many roles within the construction world that do not mean being on site. From legal roles to health and safety, there are various roles for interested candidates to choose from. Female workers in this field have paved the way for a revolution, taking many roles that have been given to men for so long. Isolde Liebherr is a Swedish Vice President of Liebherr International AG, a construction conglomerate with sales of up to $10 billion. Liebherr is not the only female leading the way to an equal forefront of the industry. Denise C. Johnson is group president for Caterpillar Inc, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction equipment.

With strong and successful women finding a career in the heavy equipment industry, there is a growing trend in female empowerment in this line of work.

“Construction is an industry that goes out of its way to help you achieve your potential. If you show both enthusiasm and interest, colleagues at all levels are quick to share their expertise and help you progress.”

Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive
Build UK

Nichol was awarded an MBE in 2005 for her service to the construction field. Ellie Shirely, site engineer for Taylor Woodrow said of the industry:

“You get to work with a great variety of people to create something that will benefit society.”

Shirely went to university for her MEng in Civil Engineering. Colleges and Universities are also behind the push to get the industry to a gender equal standpoint.

Read more about how the construction industry is encouraging women to find a career in the field in the August 2019 edition of Plant Planet

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