BARRATT Developments Scotland is promoting greater diversity within the construction sector ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8).
The housebuilder aims to encourage more women to consider a job in the industry by championing employees like Victoria Chalmers, a site manager from Aberdeen.
Victoria has worked at Barratt Homes for seven years and was the first female site manager across the company’s Scottish divisions.
The 28-year-old, who is originally from Glasgow, admits that being the only female in a traditionally male-dominated role did make her question whether she was on the right career path at first.
“I had studied architecture at Robert Gordon University, but I started to feel like it wasn’t really for me,” she explained. “The thing I did enjoy was working in groups with my peers, I naturally shone in a leadership role. Because of that, my lecturer recommended I consider a job as a construction site manager.
“I applied for a graduate scheme with Barratt Homes when I was 22. I was the only girl there out of 26 applicants and the only person under the age of 30. At first it made me question if I’d made the right decision, I thought, ‘I’m never going to get this’.
“But being the only female just made me more determined to push myself and I was lucky enough to land the role. I’ve now been at Barratt Homes for seven years. I’m so passionate about my work and absolutely love my job.”
Starting out as a trainee assistant site manager, Victoria has worked her way through the ranks. Last year she was granted a National House Building Council (NHBC) Pride in The Job Quality award.
She is passionate about promoting gender balance within the industry and breaking down construction stereotypes.
“When people meet me, they are often shocked to find out I’m a site manager, they make assumptions,” Victoria added. “I enjoy having my nails done, I like dressing glam at the weekend, but when I’m at work I mean business. I’m in full PPE, muddy rigger boots and covered in dust. I enjoy proving them wrong, I’m constantly breaking down those barriers.
“I want to show women, especially young girls, that it’s important to be yourself, no matter where you work.”
Victoria is part of Barratt Developments’ Catalyst scheme, a mentoring and development programme which looks to provide opportunities for future female site managers and leaders.
To women or girls considering a career in construction, she said, “Go for it. You have to be prepared for the hard work, you’re outside in wind, rain or snow. But it’s a fantastic career and so rewarding. We do need more women in the industry, as there needs to be greater balance. The more we break down those barriers and encourage greater diversity, the better it will be in the future.”
Douglas McLeod, regional MD for Barratt Developments Scotland, commented, “We are fully aware that one of the largest issues surrounding diversity in construction is the number of female employees working within the sector and the current gender imbalance it faces. As a housebuilder that champions diversity across the business, we will continue to encourage and inspire women to consider a career within the industry, following in the footsteps of outstanding staff members like Victoria.
“The construction industry is continuing to grow, and this is an exciting time for people with an interest in housebuilding to join a market leading company. We want to quash the stereotypes and encourage women to consider the variety of different roles that can be offered within the business that have great benefits and excellent opportunities for career progression.”