A campaign to get more North East women into the surveying industry has launched, led by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The Surveying the Future campaign intends to drive more diversity overall in the profession, in a bid to tackle a dearth of skilled workers identified by sector companies.
Sean Tomkins, RICS chief executive, said he hoped the industry could tackle a lack of diversity among its traditionally while, middle-class and male-dominated ranks.
North East-based chartered planning and development surveyor Hannah Furness joined the Department of Architecture and the Built Environment at Northumbria University as a senior lecturer, after six years in professional practice.
She said: “We are starting to see more women enroll on our built environment-related courses. This is encouraging, but we are still a long way off seeing an equal gender split of students undertaking any such degrees.”
Ms Furness is also chair of RICS Matrics North East — a networking and support group for surveying students, trainees and those who have been qualified for ten years or less.
She added: “Not enough young people really know, or understand what surveyors do. More information about the role of surveyors and how to get into the industry needs to be made available to those considering their career options, starting at school level.
“It is a common myth that surveyors all wear hard hats and work on building sites; there is a vast range of career options available for all, in locations all over the region, and indeed all over the world.
“The construction industry is changing and relies less on brawn and more on brainpower and relevant work experience. Women are just as suited as men to take up employment in tomorrow’s high-tech, multi-skilled, and innovative property and construction sector. Firms that actively seek to recruit more women are more likely to have a competitive edge over those that don’t.”
Louise Brooke-Smith, a chartered urban land economist and town planner, is the first female President of RICS in the organisation’s 147-year history.
As part of the campaign, she has visited colleges and universities to raise awareness of surveying as an exciting career option for everyone, regardless of race, age or gender.
She added: “Evidence shows that a more diverse workforce makes simple business sense. There should be absolutely no barriers to anyone’s aspirations. So this year, I have devoted myself to highlighting some of the most effective initiatives and raising awareness of the breadth of careers across our industry.
“I think partly why so few women are attracted to careers in construction, infrastructure, property and land is because there are so few successful females in such roles in the public eye. Our campaign will really drive through change in this area and highlight a broad diversity of talented professionals who are shaping the world we live in.”