Milton Keynes site manager Sophie breaks down stereotypes as firm urges more women to consider construction industry

“I don’t think this role fits into the norm of what you’re taught at school”
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To mark International Women’s Day, Barratt Homes is encouraging more women to consider a career in the construction industry, with a variety of roles available across Milton Keynes.

Whilst the number of female construction workers has increased steadily in recent years, the proportion of women in the industry is still significantly lower, something which the housebuilder is keen to change.

Research figures from the union for construction workers, GMB, showed that if the rate of female employees continues to rise at the rate it is now, the number of women in the industry won’t equal men until 2194.

Sophie Kettle is a site manager for Barratt Homes in Milton KeynesSophie Kettle is a site manager for Barratt Homes in Milton Keynes
Sophie Kettle is a site manager for Barratt Homes in Milton Keynes

Among Barratt Homes’ female employees is Sophie Kettle (23), who works as a Site Manager at the developer’s Fairfields development in Milton Keynes.

Sophie began her journey in the industry working on commercial private high-rise developments in London for five years, and loved the complexity behind the buildings.

She said: “I had no idea about construction during my school and college years. My interest first peaked when I saw a development opposite my college at the time. I found the architecture interesting so wanted to look further into it.

“I don’t think this role fits into the norm of what you’re taught at school. Women in site management is still a rarity and I still receive surprised reactions from operatives when they walk in to get an induction.

Sophie with a colleague on site at FairfieldsSophie with a colleague on site at Fairfields
Sophie with a colleague on site at Fairfields

“There’s no doubt it’s a male-dominated industry, but I have received nothing but support and encouragement throughout my career. The old-fashioned concept of a woman in construction being looked down upon is far from the norm in the industry and it’s an amazing career with progression at every avenue.”

With a number of female employees already in a range of roles across the company, the housebuilder is reminding women from all skill sets of the different roles available and is encouraging them to put their experience to the industry.

Sophie continued: “My favourite part of my role as site manager is the versatility. Every day is different, and there is a constant drive to solve problems and make things happen around me. It’s an amazing feeling to watch areas of developments finish knowing you were a part of making that happen.

“I think women may not consider the industry due to the perception of the role. There is stigma of needing to act and be a certain way, however, the industry allows plenty of creative space to create your own rhythm of how you want to manage and run your site.

“For any women considering joining the industry, I would say go for it! It’s a challenging and testing job at times, but it’s also a rewarding one. You are changing the industry’s reputation.”

“With a range of departments within the company, we want to remind women that there are a variety of different roles that can be offered within the business that have great benefits and excellent opportunities for career progression.”

Some roles within the industry include those based on site, such as electricians, plasterers, engineers, forklift drivers, scaffolders, bricklayers, site managers and contracts managers.

Head office roles include architectural technicians, surveyors, finance administrators and more.

To learn more about career opportunities visit the website.