There are so many remarkable women at HMS and to celebrate International Women’s Day we talked to Adele, Ruth and Gail to find out about their roles and what advice they would give to other women interested in getting into the construction sector.
Working across the business, they all do vastly different roles and are fantastic examples of how women positively contribute to every aspect of HMS:
Adele is a Site Manager and is responsible for managing the onsite team, monitoring the site’s progress and ensuring the site is safe and compliant with all H&S regulations. Taking up a number of roles in the housing sector, Adele’s experience of working with customers and clients gives her a unique insight into the industry.
Ruth is a Plasterer and is committed to developing her skills. Starting her career in education, teaching students across the globe, Ruth is committed to encouraging more women into the trade and highlighting the opportunities available.
Gail leads the Scheduling, Customer Experience and Business Support Teams and as Head of Customer Service is vital in ensuring HMS’ customers receive the best levels of service and are supported, regardless of their needs or situation. Working with HMS for 11 years, Gail is instrumental in leading HMS’ Women in Construction programme and actively highlighting training opportunities to women in the local area.
What inspires you?
R: From a plastering capacity, sadly there are no other female plasterers I know of, though I know that is rapidly changing. I take my inspiration from myself. I set myself a goal and failure is never an option.
G: I find inspiration in a variety of people, particularly those that have the drive and determination to succeed. Most recently, I’ve been really inspired by Tara Jones of St Helens Women’s Rugby Team. Tara represents a new generation of strong women, not afraid to break the mold and shatter glass ceilings and I love that! She’s determined and driven in a quietly confident way that is really powerful.
Also, there are several inspirational female leaders within our organisation and I love that HMS also has some new female managers coming through, as well as female trades and apprentices, who I’m excited to see grow.
A: Initially, I was inspired to start working in social housing after living in social housing - I wanted to make a difference in the communities I live and work in.
From studying social housing, my first inspiration was Lady Octavia Hill. It was interesting to learn that a woman was at the forefront of introducing social housing to the UK and her mission still makes such a difference to the way we live now - many of her conditions of tenancy are still being applied!
What barriers are women facing in your line of work?
G: Working in the construction industry, there’s always been a stigma about women and whether we can be as good as men in the role. There are over 320,000 women working in construction, but we need more!
Programmes like Women in Construction, which Torus Foundation support, are massive in giving women the opportunity to explore construction as a career of choice.
A: The biggest barrier is our own self-belief, feeling that we don’t belong in the industry as we assume that building works are more suited to men, when in fact we all learn the same way.
There are still times where you may come across the odd misogynistic opinion, but we are in the position to disprove these outdated views.
Torus has employed a large number of female trade apprentices and I must say my male colleagues in HMS have always been supportive and inclusive regardless of gender.
R: As there is no real comparison for women in trades, we are all pioneers together, therefore, we cannot improve nor draw on past experiences. However, what I am a huge advocate for is communication, communication, communication. Let's try things, let's dream big, let's make those mistakes and learn from them. This way we can only ever improve, can't we? For me, it's the journey, not the destination.
What advice would you give to the next generation?
A: My advice to any female looking to work in the industry would be DO IT! It is achievable, you will be accepted, every mountain is conquered with the first step. Believe in yourself and you will succeed.
It is an amazing industry to work in and you get a great sense of achievement when you complete a project or repair. Always be yourself and be ready for the challenges, no day is the same, and not only can you make a difference, you can be the difference.
R: Simply put, any slight inclination to go into trades or construction - DO IT! The opportunities are vast, and my journey so far has surpassed any expectations I ever had (and I had very high expectations!).
G: There is nothing that you cannot achieve, be confident in your abilities, don’t be afraid to take unexpected paths and be yourself!