Women in construction

The prejudices can be put aside

Women in construction: the prejudices can be put aside

Women can do construction work just as well as men. That's a conviction that has been firmly established at Ballast Nedam for many years. There is definitely room for further growth. But the numbers are rising: 14.5% of our colleagues are now female.

"We really shouldn't be having this conversation at all," says Nienke Scheide at the construction site of Galaxy Tower Utrecht. "It should be normal for men and women to work in the construction industry. But let's be honest: it is far from normal. As a woman with years of experience in construction and engineering, I notice the prejudices on a regular basis."

"When I tell about Ballast Nedam as an employer, I get strange looks from time to time. Do you do an administrative job?', people ask. I am getting used to talking to others about my work environment. To me, working with mainly men is quite normal. I enjoy it. Sometimes I work at head office for a day, but then I quickly return to the construction site."
We really shouldn't be having this conversation at all.
Nienke Scheide QA/QC Coordinator Ballast Nedam
Nienke has been working at Ballast Nedam for almost ten years. From a variety of technical positions, she immersed herself in the installation technology of the A9 Gaasperdammertunnel, A24 Blankenburgverbinding, N31 Harlingen and Avenue2 in Maastricht. Two years ago, she made a switch to the QA/QC department. With this team, she ensures that all Ballast Nedam's construction projects meet the quality requirements and comply with legislation and regulations.

Percentages of women in constructionde bouw

Volgens cijfers van het CBS is het aandeel man/vrouw in de bouw verre van gelijk verdeeld. Het percentage vrouwen in de bouw blijft al jarenlang steken op een gemiddelde van 9%. Bij Ballast Nedam ligt dat wat hoger: 14,5% van alle medewerkers is vrouw. Op kantoren van Ballast Nedam ligt dat rond de 20%.

"Diversity and inclusion are indispensable within our company," says Willem Turkenburg, Director HR at Ballast Nedam. "The legislative proposal for a more balanced distribution of men and women in the board of directors and management is intended as an incentive and sets tough standards, specifically for the government and semi-government and listed companies. Ballast Nedam is not a listed company, but we do endorse the principles of this proposal - more women are certainly needed in the construction industry. We have set ourselves a deadline: 25% of all Ballast Nedam employees will be female by 2025."
By 2025, 25% of all Ballast Nedam employees will be female.
Willem Turkenburg Head of HR Ballast Nedam

As a young girl among the machines

How do you make more women enthusiastic about a career in construction? There are plenty of opportunities, Nienke believes. But you have to start early: "The Ballast Nedam women of the future are still at primary school. The opportunities lie with them. Children think creatively and they are continually amazed. I think that, as the whole sector, we can make them even more excited."

As a little girl, Nienke was already introduced to this field. She played with Lego non-stop and went along with her father to his work in engineering. She laughs: "As a little girl, I would stand among the excavators while a defect was being repaired. I wanted to know everything. It was clear that I would go into the technical field."

From an HR perspective, Willem Turkenburg also sees opportunities. "We see an increasing number of female students in relevant studies. That is why we are confident that more and more young female talents will enter the company. They can, for example, start with an internship, traineeship or junior position. This way, they can possibly move on to management positions, as long as they are interested in doing so themselves, of course."

Soft skills

At the construction site, Nienke looks around. "Yes, I happen to be a woman. But if there had been a man here, we would both have done the job equally well. Besides, female qualities of character can come in handy. I notice in the team that I am relatively more empathetic. And I connect with others more often. Those soft skills are a good combination with the tougher qualities of a man. So, if you ask me again whether women can do this work just as well as men, I will say yes again - absolutely."

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