Empowering Women in Construction – “A man in a hardhat wouldn’t receive this comment, so why should I?”

As part of our Empowering Women in Construction series, we’re broadcasting stories of amazing women across the country. One such woman is Marsha Brophy, who works as a Concrete Sales Executive for Mick George Limited. 

Construction has been a key part of Marsha’s life, and she was initially inspired to join the industry by family members. 

“Mick George has always been a massive influence in the region, as one of the biggest construction firms and suppliers in East Anglia. I’ve always been interested in following in my family’s footsteps. So when my uncle said there was a job going, I was really interested. 

“I started off from the bottom and worked my way up, and since then I’ve had many opportunities to progress. It’s been very equal to both females and males in the company so it’s been a good journey so far.

“I’ve grown up around construction. I remember when I was younger I used to sit in my grandad’s JCB digger, so it’s something I’ve always been involved with. It was something I’ve never considered doing, but it was definitely a good step for me.” 

Even though her experience in the industry has been mostly positive, there have been moments where Marsha has experienced sexism at work. This is something unfortunately common in the industry; a report published by Randstad in 2020 showed that, of 4,200 women working in construction surveyed, nearly three-quarters (72%) had experienced some form of gender discrimination in the workplace in 2019. 

“I posted a selfie on LinkedIn in a hardhat and hi vis, and it attracted quite a bit of attention and some hurtful comments.  Some people said ‘is it professional to be posing like that’, ‘it’s not OK magazine’, ‘selfies are quite shallow’… 

“I initially thought a man in a hard hat wouldn’t receive this comment so why should I? It’s made me more determined to think I’m going to go ahead with that. Because that’s my job, and we want to showcase our business as much as we can.

“I’ve got a colleague, she was one of the first female sales reps in Concrete, Jayne. She’s experienced being on site, wearing shorts, and she’s had people saying to her ‘you’re not allowed to wear shorts’ even though all the guys were wearing shorts. 

“I’ve actually had things like that in the past where people would ask, can I speak to a male?”

Marsha thinks that there’s still more companies can do to help be more inclusive towards women.

“I think more site based roles for women would be brilliant because it would end the stereotype of men just being on site.” 

“I would also say that companies should hold more open days, where women could learn about specific roles within their company.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Marsha on the Empowering Women in Construction Podcast, which you can listen to here.