Karine Geron. President of the PERLE group

QUESTION: What is your current situation and what is your professional background? How long have you worked in the construction sector and what are your main professional missions?

ANSWER: I am the manager of the company that we created with my husband, which is an earthmoving and landscaping company that is more than 15 years old.

From the beginning, I took care of the administrative management. We started with a small team and now we have about fifteen workers on 4-5 permanent workers every day. This requires a certain administrative management from all points of view such as accounting, taxation, contact with banks and insurance, all the preparation of construction sites for safety, etc.

In terms of my professional background, it is not basically my profession. I learned everything about the terrian! Basically, I did a graduate in speech therapy. When I left school, I opened my speech therapy practice. I professed for about 10 years. Along with my job at the firm as a freelancer, I was already doing the administrative management of my husband’s business when he started. I then integrated permanently and full-time the management of the company.

QUESTION: How do you see the current situation of women in the construction sector?

ANSWER: For some time now, we have started to meet more and more women in the construction sector who are in positions of responsibility, either in co-management or co-administration. It’s encouraging ! But in fact, it is progressing step by step. The figures show some advances, increases, even that could advance better. But, we notice that during construction events, we meet more and more women, not like before when the public was mainly male.

I would also add that more and more women are interested in the construction sector, which is positive. Because, we often say that mentalities must change among men, but also among women and we notice that this is also changing in women’s perceptions of the sector, which is a good thing.

QUESTION: The construction industry is still a male domain. What steps can be taken to significantly increase the proportion of women in the near future?

ANSWER: It’s very complicated, we don’t have a miracle recipe, but what we really need most is a change of mentality from the start to degender jobs. It is cultural, historical: we have conditioned professions according to their gender in our society. There are professions that are feminine, others masculine. The construction sector is no exception.

Even today, when a girl goes to tell her parents that she wants to work in construction, they risk telling her that it is not a “girl’s job”…

So it is basically, from an early age, at school, that we must open the minds of our young people to break down the barriers, the taboos of gendered professions. But this goes beyond the construction sector alone.

QUESTION: What advantages do you see in having more women in the construction trades?

ANSWER: In general, having women in its teams allows a diversity of audiences and brings a certain added value in the points of view of each and everyone.

At the level of administrative or managerial positions, this allows a certain stability and more serene, peaceful and open exchanges. This is what emerges from my interactions with my colleagues when we talk about this theme.

Another element is that women bring another point of view, another perception which enriches the exchanges and the sharing of ideas in the company.

As for the field on site, I really think that all these elements can bring the same benefits in business.

QUESTION: What advice would you give to young women considering a career in construction?

ANSWER: A first advice would be: do not hesitate! If this is really what you want (to join the sector), do not hesitate because there is room and there is also room for women, whether on site or in offices. You do not have to be afraid !

Secondly, it won’t be easy, we mustn’t hide it, so they mustn’t get discouraged. Since they are women, they will de facto have to prove more than a man, that’s for sure… They will have to make their place even more.

Another advice that also applies to anyone, whether a woman or a man, is that the construction sector, we will always need it, it is the base and it is a sector of the future. There will always be houses to build or renovate. In the context of shortage that we know today, it is a guaranteed place! But, indeed, you have to be courageous, motivated, invested in your work as in any job after all.

In addition, construction trades are modernizing and becoming more and more versatile. The most rewarding thing about working in the construction industry is seeing the before and after. What pride to have participated in certain works it can give! When we pass in front of a building on which we have worked, we can say to ourselves “I contributed to the construction or renovation of this work”.