Our industry has a problem with women, in that there’s not enough of them in our industry. In fact that can be said about the whole of the construction sector. It was revealed only recently that of all those who work in construction, only a couple of percent were women. I know that the number of women in construction and our industry is low, but I never realised it was that low.

Quite frankly, in 2016, that figure is way too low. It should be way higher than that, and considering the chronic shortage of skills and staff in the glazing sector and wider construction sector, it would make sense for both sectors to step up their efforts to attract many more women to the industries.

Yet, I don’t think we are. In fact, I believe we’re still putting up barriers, maintaining barriers which put women off from joining our industry. An example of that was at the last industry exhibition.

Why the need for show girls?

At the very first FIT Show there were a number of companies who elected to use show girls on their stands and around the halls. I distinctly remember cave girls and lads roaming the halls that first year. I kind of expected it. It was the first one, companies will have wanted to make an impact and draw people to their stands.

Second time round, I was hoping that some exhibition maturity would set in and exhibiting companies would go down a different route to attract stand attention. Nope. Show girls a second time round.

Then it was this years show. Nothing changed. More show girls. And this time it was very cringey. I got the feeling that no one really thought it was a good idea. You can just imagine the types of conversations that goes on at the planning and marketing meetings to sign these things off.

But why the need for them? If it was 1983 then I could kind of understand it. But it’s not. So why stoop to hiring women to flaunt around a hall in the hopes of grabbing attention? To me at least, all that serves to do is to reinforce a stereotype in our industry and wider construction that we really should be working on banishing. Surely, with all the talent, technology and funds at the hands of companies, there are other ways and means of providing talking points and entertainment at industry shows and other big events?

DGB Tech

Tapping a well of talent

If you ask me, and you’re probably not, I think the glazing industry needs a big influx of women at all levels. Sales, fabrication, installation, surveying, maintenance, delivery. You name it, women should be there. But they’re not. At least not from what I’ve seen in my 12 years in this industry.

It doesn’t make any sense though. It’s a male dominated industry in many parts, but there is no job a man can do that a woman can’t. We are suffering a sharp shortage of skilled workers at all levels, so would it not make sense to make our industry more welcoming, equal and fair for all? Perhaps then our sector could attract more women, talented, productive and forward thinking women, who could help push our industry forward?

I believe there is a very large untapped pool of talent and potential in the female workforce, and our sector should be taking steps to take advantage of that. Our industry is a good one to work in, if you find a good company to work for. It’s not all bad, despite some of the negative press out there.

We have to change our mindset as an industry if that is to happen. Only the other month, I saw a tweet from a company which I questioned on Twitter as to why they did what they did. The company in the focus on my tweets had brought a cardboard cut out of a scantily clad female doctor. I called them out on it and rightly apologised. I don’t think any harm was done, but it was the oversight that was the problem. There was still a meeting at that company where whoever was in charge decided that it was a good idea to do what they did. Images like that are not going to make women considering a career in fenestration or construction that it’s an environment they want to be in.

One positive step forward I would like to see at the FIT Show in 2017 is companies ditching the show girl option. It’s degrading, cringe-worthy, tacky and simply something that a forward thinking industry trying to evolve should not be doing. Instead, I would like to see exhibiting companies get creative with their stand entertainment. Think outside the box and come up with ideas that people will appreciate the novelty of.

More women can have a very positive impact in our industry. Your comments on and thoughts on this are welcome as always via the section below.

To get weekly updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe: