Few women in building industry: study

Monday March 16 2020

Kenya’s construction has been recording remarkable growth, but women still lag behind. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


The number of women in the construction industry or taking science courses in universities and colleges in Kenya is extremely low, a new study shows.

According to the study on Women in the Built Environment, women still lag behind in an industry that has for the past several years been recording remarkable growth. The aim of the survey, released by Women in Real Estate was to bring to light the demographic of women professionals within the construction industry in Kenya.

“The survey has helped us acquire information on the level of participation of women in various fields within the construction sector and brings to light the opportunities present for them,” said Wire vice president Emma Miloyo.

The survey adds that despite a steady rise in the number of female graduates in Kenya, women account for only a small proportion of the employees in the construction sector.

Statistics from the Engineers Board of Kenya show that females account for only 10.6 per cent of engineering graduates — that is 1,519 out of a total 14,320 graduates. The survey also shows that only 15.4 per cent of registered contractors in Kenya are women. In building works, there are 14 women contractors while in roads there are 1,514 and 121 in mechanical works.

“Out of 17,119 contractors registered by the National Construction Authority as at November last year, only 2,645 are female,” the survey notes.


The data used in the survey was received from government agencies and professional associations including the National Construction Authority, the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors, EBK, Architectural Association Kenya and Town and County Planners Association of Kenya. Kenyatta University and the University of Nairobi also provided data.

Katherine Ichoya, a former chief executive of the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa said there is a disconnect between practising professionals and young upcoming ones.

Principal consultant at Eco Build Africa Prof Alfred Omenya said the huge gender disparity can only point to an abnormal society.

“Sometimes, there is a need to confront societal norms that enhance gender inequality,” said Prof Omenya.

Equally, the latest admission trends by the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (Kuccps) show that male students prefer science courses like medicine, engineering, pharmacy and architecture.

In a report presented last month by Kuccps chief executive Dr John Muraguri at the International Conference on University Reforms in Nairobi shows that between 2014 and 2019, male students taking engineering ranged between 76 per cent and 82 per cent, while admissions of female students rose from 18 per cent to 24 per cent.

The report titled Women and Higher Education: Gender Trends in Higher Education in Kenya (Enrolment and Fields of Study) reveals that historically, the gender representation in university admissions in the country has favoured males.



Engineers Board of Kenya: There are 142 registered female engineers out of 1,936.

Association of Construction Managers of Kenya: Some 38 women out 278 are registered.

Kenya Institute of Planners: Some 62 women out 255 planners are in their register.

Architectural Association of Kenya: Some 90 women out of 763 are registered.

Quantity surveyors: Some 78 of the total 459 registered are women