ON THE eve of the annual Earth Day celebrations, Scottish Government Minister Lorna Slater has urged more women to join the construction industry and use their skills to build a greener future to help protect the planet.
Marked every year on April 22, Earth Day is a celebration which demonstrates support for environmental protection and includes a wide range of global events.
In a wide-ranging video interview with electrical trade association SELECT, Ms Slater said women have a vital role to play in the engineering sector and should be proactively recruited into renewables and emergent technologies.
The Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity said that any women considering a career in construction or engineering should “dive in and go for it” to help build a net zero society.
Ms Slater said: “When I was considering engineering as a career, the main pathways into it were maths and physics, both subjects in which girls are historically under-represented, so we must make these subjects more accessible to young women.
“By the time I started working, it was normal for me to be the only woman in the room, and I guess I got used to that – but we shouldn’t.
“We shouldn’t allow that to be normal.
“We need to proactively tell girls what great careers they can have in the emergent industries.
“So, we must go out, encourage them, find out what the barriers are and then try to knock them down to get women in and encourage them to stay.”
Speaking to Fiona Harper, Director of Employment and Skills at SELECT, Ms Slater went on: “There are few role models and, where women are doing these jobs, it is important that we share that information as widely as possible.
“Figures show that the construction industry is 97% male and if you are part of the 3% it can feel lonely and unprotected.”
Ms Slater, who joined the Scottish Government in her capacity as co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, said other countries, such as China and India, were doing better in terms of gender balance in male-dominated occupations.
Ms Slater said: “There are very good careers available, with lots of opportunities for collaboration – bouncing ideas around a team and coming up with a solution to a problem, perhaps a solution no one else had ever thought of before.
“We don’t talk enough about the creative aspect of being involved in professions such as engineering and perhaps if we did, it would make the industry more attractive to a much wider range of talent.”
Ms Harper,The Secretary of the Scottish Joint Industry Board (SJIB), said: “We are grateful to the Minister for taking the time to take part in our video interview and address this important issue.
“Women have a vital role to play in the modern construction sector and it is vital that we seek out female talent to help us develop the technology of tomorrow.”
Fiona Harper’s interview with Lorna Slater MSP is available to watch on SELECT’s YouTube channel here.