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Breaking The Bias: One Woman's Experience in Construction

Breaking The Bias: One Woman's Experience in Construction

Our Head of Health, Safety and Risk, Rachel Butler recently became the youngest chartered female fellow of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health in the world. A massive achievement that the whole business is so proud of her for. 

Not only that, but she was also nominated and voted for as one of the top 15 most influential health and safety practitioners in the UK.  All in all, pretty impressive - and add to this that she’s making these waves in the historically male-dominated worlds of Construction and Health & Safety. 

We caught up with Rachel this International Women’s Day to find out how she’s established her career, and if she found the hurdles that you’d expect to face as a woman in these worlds.

What drew you to a career in Health, Safety and Risk / Construction? I started my career as a receptionist for a construction company and I knew then that my passion was to get involved with changing the negative preconceived notions around Health & Safety, particularly in Construction.

Have you ever felt that there were additional hurdles in your career due to your gender? When I joined the industry it was (and probably still is) predominantly a male profession. For me I would describe this not as a hurdle, but instead more of a challenge and extremely rewarding when collectively we can work together to change mindsets of people who have been working a certain way for many years.

Certainly in the early parts of my career I would be challenged on ‘what would I know’. I have never claimed to be an expert in everything I do, instead using my softer skills to my advantage to ask ‘why’ we do things the way we do and this has meant that curiosity has led to innovations.

What would you say to other women/people coming into these industries? The role of a Health & Safety profesional is changing and I am proud to have been a part of that. You can be too - with the right attitude and passion to help others, you can achieve anything.

What biases would you like to break around these industries? Health & Safety is not a chore, nor a hazard spotting exercise - if we get Health & Safety right, work becomes efficient. It is also an extremely diverse role: from crane lifts to health campaigns, wellbeing and electronic apps, there are so many positives to the role and plenty more to be discovered!

Construction is not just made up of big burly men with hard hats, there are so many exciting opportunities in this industry that can change the way we work and live.

Are you a woman working in the Construction industry? What has your experience been like? We'd love to hear your thoughts... Tweet us at @Bruntwood_UK

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