Heidi Husari, Principle at RATEKO, Training Centre for the Construction Industries, Managing Director Suomen Rakennusmedia Oy
QUESTION: What is your professional/educational background?
Bachelor of Science in Architecture, qualified teacher, MBA, information specialist, NTM, headmaster’s degree
QUESTION: How long have you worked in the construction sector (or worked on a topic related to the role of women in the construction sector) and what are your main responsibilities?
ANSWER: I have worked in the construction sector, more or less, since 1988, when graduated Bachelor of Science in Architecture. At the moment I work as a principal of Training Centre for the Construction Industries as well as a Managing Director if Suomen Rakennusmedia Oy, which is the daughter company of Finnish Construction Industries RT. My main responsibility is to develop construction sector in Finland via adult education and e-learning.
QUESTION: What do you think about the current situation of women in the construction sector?
Women have remained underrepresented group in the Construction sector in Finland. Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT and its member companies as well as personal organizations in the construction sector have had and have ongoing measures to attract women to the sector.
QUESTION: What do you think is the reason for this?
ANSWER: The sector’s reputation is still old fashioned and conservative, it needs to be upgraded. This has already been done through communication and campaigns. The media should at least present the sector objectively, preferably in a positive light, not by publishing negative news. Objective information about the sector does not reach sufficiently young people who are of choice of profession. The choice of profession among young people is guided by current trends, the choices of friends, the views of parents etc.
QUESTION: Is there any noticeable change from the past?
ANSWER: There really has been major improvement in the construction sector, especially in the fields of occupational safety, which has improved very much. This may have an positive impact on popularity of the construction professions among girls, I believe. Sector has also been actively preventing grey market, controlling humidity in buildings and striving digitalization as well as customer experience has improved a lot.
QUESTION: The construction industry is still seen as a male-dominated sector. What measures can be taken in the near future to significantly increase the share of women?
ANSWER: The key is cooperation between the different actors, both to improve attractiveness and through joint communication measures to improve the sector’s image. At the moment we are promoting a campaign in RT, in which we bring out the best parts of the working life in construction:
- Good reputation of educational institutions and companies in the field.
- The construction industry’s positive parts: competent and stylish experts, nationally significant projects and their presentation, construction-related reality TV programs, new innovations, concrete ways and the opportunity to influence the urban environment and people’s well-being etc.
- The field is a craft profession / the field is a technical profession. Seeing the traces of your own doing. Varied jobs are available in the construction sector
- We do concrete and meaningful work and are socially and environmentally responsible.
- The construction is low-carbon and mitigates climate change. The materials are recyclable, working in the sector is also an opportunity to influence environmental issues and to concretely leave a handprint and influence the reduction of emissions.
- Good salary and fair equal employer, employment prospects and career progression, good employment are common in the sector.
- Nowadays the work environment is quite safe, and employees can have up-to-date education and working life orientation. Study advisors have a good understanding of the field and the ability to identify potential applicants.
- We deal also with role models and heritability of occupations, because Parents can have strong opinions and ideas, some have their own positive experiences, which are piled up in front of the young person when he thinks about choosing the construction industry. The images and attitudes of family and friends affect on career chosen.
- We find it important to give young people their own positive experiences and elimination of prejudices. Crap job and crap pay, the image of the car needs to be improved. Your own experience, e.g. from an internship or summer job, opens up the field and tasks in a concrete way in other words the work is nice, there are good people and good things, and interesting tasks in the construction business.