Georgina Naish is a technical graduate at David Wilson Homes (part of Barratt Developments plc) based in Hungerford. She studied at the Manchester School of Architecture, and studies Urban Design part time at Oxford Brookes University. Georgina is coordinating a new initiative called Built by Both, which has the main objective of inspiring young women to embark on careers within the built environment and show credit to those already working in the industry through activities such as educational experience days for students and networking events for young women to meet role models.
“…it isn’t all women and girl power, and being better than men – it’s about building a better future together so more women can benefit from such a vast and interesting industry, and also the industry can benefit from more talented women…”
Applying my skills to house building
After graduating from my Part 1 Architecture degree, I am a technical graduate at David Wilson Homes. During my studies, house building and construction were not really pushed as obvious career routes; you were studying architecture to become an architect. General practice is to work in an architectural studio before returning for the Masters, but I had previously experienced working on site and absolutely loved it, so explored different options within construction.
This is when I learnt more about the many different areas within house building that I could apply my skills, and I discovered the structured graduate programme with Barratt that lets you learn about all of these areas before specialising. Having done this, I have learnt a lot more about the planning processes, and development, and the design of new communities and regeneration projects, which I have really enjoyed.
Endless opportunities for women in construction, the trades, architecture, planning, engineering, real estate and beyond
Built by Both was originally set up as a legacy project for The Prince’s Trust annual Million Makers Corporate Challenge, undertaken as a graduate cohort. Along with three other fundraising projects, the group wanted to do more than raise money for the charity, and really develop a campaign that would align with the values of The Prince’s Trust, by supporting and inspiring young people.
Translated into our own industry, we have created a networking and educational platform to highlight the endless opportunities there are for women within the sector, be that construction, the trades, architecture, planning, engineering, real estate and beyond.
We are promoting this by a series of social evenings called INSPIRE//NETWORK, where we bring together new faces, professionals, students (men and women) to share stories, best practise, advice and contacts, and hear from role models in the industry, who share their experience and demonstrate the challenges and rewards a careers in the built environment can bring.
We are also leading ‘Student Experience Days’ at our Barratt central London office, where we welcome female undergraduate students to attend specialist skills sessions and careers workshops, as well as visits to a number of our flagship sites to gain an insight into different professions. The students will then be invited to join us afterwards at our aforementioned networking evenings.
Who Built by Both works with
We have met some incredible people since starting Built by Both – individuals, organisations and other charitable groups. There are men and women from all sub sectors of the built environment that support our cause and we really want to encompass the ambitions of the many other groups out there by being a bit of an umbrella brand. It is essentially a networking group for networks.
We have some fantastic partnerships with Women in Planning, the National Association of Women in Construction, CBRE Women’s Network, as well as educational and institutional support from the Home Builders Federation, Go Construct and Construction Youth Trust. We want to work with anyone involved in the industry, even in the smallest or slightest of ways, to bring people together and strengthen our workforce by celebrating the fantastic women we have and welcoming more and more women to join us.
With the support from all sub sectors of the industry, we believe this could be a catalyst for change within the built environment, to create a more diverse workforce and eliminate statistics that may put women off these careers.
It is by a collaborative effort that we can instigate change
Given the incredible support we have received so far, it is clear that the industry agrees with our motives, and it is by a collaborative effort that we can instigate change. Built by Both is exactly that – it isn’t all women and girl power, and being better than men – it’s about building a better future together so more women can benefit from such a vast and interesting industry, and also the industry can benefit from more talented women.
The women I have met, both within my own work and with Built by Both, are incredible at what they do. They are strong minded, thorough, meticulous, sociable and well respected. I think there is a sense of justification of our position, and women being pressured to show their value at all times, and although this is unjust, it does show their immense capabilities and the need for more women like this in the industry – not only for gender parity but also for the quality of our built environment too.
How the construction industry is changing to try and attract more women
The industry is changing to work on the imbalance – more so where there is a greater need in construction and trades. There are some brilliant campaigns out there, particularly #NotJustForBoys by Construction Youth Trust and Women into Construction by Go Construct, to highlight the many opportunities out there.
However, it is also not illustrated as being a ‘late’ career move either. With national changes to childcare, there is a gap in the market for mothers returning to work, who may suit working for themselves as tradeswomen or technical consultants, or ex-military trainees with impeccable skills suited as site manager, engineer and more.
There needs to also be an emphasis on retention too, and rewarding the women of the built environment. Great retention = greater attraction = more women in the industry.
Advice for girls and women who would like to find out more
I am just starting out myself and I am still finding out new things every day! I think the most important thing to do is to be completely open to new things, and constantly looking out for opportunities to discover the industry.
My biggest piece of advice would be to never think that it is too late – there will always be the opportunity there despite your experience, age, background etc. There isn’t a need for one set career path; some of the most interesting people I have met have seized opportunities and worked hard in multiple areas of the industry; there is always scope to progress and develop if you want it.
Coming up for me and Built by Both
I shall be starting an M.A. in Urban Design course at Oxford Brookes University part time as I develop in my role at David Wilson Homes, and work on some fantastic projects. Both opportunities will really help the other with my progression so I am excited for that.
Built by Both’s next event will be on Thursday 29th September, with an Experience Day with female undergraduate university students from Loughborough and De Montfort, followed by the next evening in the INSPIRE//NETWORK series. We have a Construction focus to this event and have a great line up of speakers:
- Natasha Clark-Withers – CEO and founder, Get Her Trade
- Kath Moore – managing director, Women into Construction
- Stewart Murray – assistant director, Greater London Authority
Ticket are still available here.
Following this, our next date is Thursday 17th November. Places for the Student Experience Day are still available, and tickets for INSPIRE//NETWORK are on sale now.