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To celebrate International Women’s Day, we chat with Leigh Fitzpatrick, Site Manager at Mount Anvil, on being a woman in construction

The construction industry, with 87% male employees according to the ONS, doesn’t reflect society’s balance right now. And we know that better balance creates a better world. So we paid a visit to Leigh Fitzpatrick who is thriving at Keybridge, our Vauxhall development where lazy stereotypes about the nature of the work and the culture of construction are on the way out. Read more below.

In an age of growing gender equality, we're shining a light on how ‘this girl can’, and with more developers promoting the role of females across the industry, it would appear that a step-change is on the horizon. We chat with Leigh to get her thoughts.  

Hi Leigh, can you give us a quick intro to you?

I’m Leigh Fitzpatrick, 28, and a site manager here at Mount Anvil. I’ve been at the company nearly two years having begun my career in construction five years’ ago.

Can you tell us how you got into construction?

After school I was encouraged, like many, to pursue a conventionally academic route. I’ve always had an interest in buildings and design, so architecture seemed like the right fit. It was only when I started studying it, that I quickly realised it wasn’t for me.

While trying to figure out what to do next, I decided to join my friend on his construction management work experience. I knew almost instantly that this was what I wanted to do. I had no idea that there were so many options available within construction, though it was probably because they were never suggested to me. It’s short sighted that these opportunities aren’t as readily accessible for girls of a younger age, for example, in school or college. 

I am starting to see more girls being offered such opportunities at a younger age and more women entering construction apprenticeships as a result, which is great. But there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of selling the industry to women and presenting it as a viable career choice. 

What do you think can be done to encourage more girls to think of construction as a career of choice?

I am starting to see more girls being offered such opportunities at a younger age and more women entering construction apprenticeships as a result, which is great. But there’s still a lot of work to do in terms of selling the industry to women and presenting it as a viable career choice. 

If I think about the options presented to me when I was younger, construction wasn’t one of them. It should have been. More initiatives like Futures Foundry, our new skills hub based in Whitechapel, are needed. It’s a great way to engage the next generation of talent, regardless of gender.

So, it was love at first "site" (excuse the pun)?

Yes pretty much. I’ve always known I wanted to have a more hands on career, and not a 9-5 desk job. Being a site manager is just that. No day is the same, and here at Mount Anvil you get to work on some exciting schemes.                                           

What does a day in the working life of Leigh look like?

There is so much variety on site, which I find helps me to be more productive and keeps me fit. My main responsibility is the management of the works taking place on my section of the site. I normally begin my day with a safety check and walk around to make sure trades have started on time. I’ll also get an update from the contractors so I can anticipate anything that may affect our sequence of works. Some days I have meetings with sub-contractors where I spend time in the office, others I'm on site getting updates from the team. No two days are ever the same. 

What’s next for you?

My hope is to start working towards becoming a senior project manager, where I would have holistic view of a development, from inception to completion. 

What advice would you give women in a male-dominated industry?

I’ve found that by being confident in the work that I do and by building positive relationships with the people I work with, I'm a respected member of the team, regardless of my gender.

Finally, what makes you proud?

In London, people are always looking at the sky. At 37 storeys, Keybridge Lofts won't just affect the skyline, it will dominate it. Once all 844,456 bricks have been laid it will be the UK's tallest brick residential tower. That’s something to be proud of. 

If you enjoyed reading about Leigh and want to find out how you too can make it in construction, head over to our careers page