100 for 100 Series: Kate Duffy | Wates

Equality of opportunity for everyone is essential for businesses to thrive. For 2019 International Woman’s Day, Kate Duffy shares what #balanceforbetter means to her.

Kate Duffy - Business Management Trainee, Wates Living Space

“I am a woman and I work in construction, and I am extremely proud to have started my career at such a pivotal point for the industry. It is true to say that it was never a clear ambition of mine to work in the construction industry, for the simple reason that I hadn’t really considered it and it has become so clear to me that this is the ultimate challenge. Construction just isn’t seen as a typically female career choice and this amazing sector, which is the UK’s biggest employer, is therefore innocently cast aside by so many. But the tide is turning.

“I started my two-year traineeship with Wates Living Space in September 2018 and I am currently working in the planned housing maintenance division having completed three months with the responsive maintenance team. My time with the business so far has taught me so much but one thing that became immediately clear to me is that it really doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. What matters is the skill-set you bring to the table.

“This is such a refreshing thought and completely dispels the myth that this is a man’s world. It’s certainly a world where there are a lot of men, as the figures demonstrate; in 2016, the number of people working in the industry stood at 2.3 million and of these, 296,000 were women according to the Office for National Statistics. But this is a diverse, respectful and welcoming sector. Careers in construction are there for the taking – the door is most definitely open for women. I took a leap of faith joining this industry and I now feel so privileged to be playing my part in pushing the boundaries.

“One surprising part of my job with Wates Living Space is being involved in all of the community engagement we do. Our day job is repairing and maintaining people’s homes, but there are so many side projects where people are giving something back. It’s extremely rewarding. For me this has so far included careers evenings and mock interviews with students and every single young woman I have spoken to has been so surprised at the variety of jobs there are in construction. Not every job is linked to a trade. If you can think of a job, I would like to bet it’s available in construction, from human resources to graphic design, from commercial management to public relations. Opening female students’ eyes to the possibilities of this industry has been an amazing experience.

“The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Balance for Better based on the belief that balance drives a better working world. I think that’s a really powerful message. It’s not about putting women above men; it’s about celebrating balance and equality. For me this is about equal opportunities and the truth is that this amazing industry can and does offer this. The statistics have a long way to go before we can see this gender balance in black and white, but opportunities for women are in abundance. All it takes it a leap of faith.”

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