Where are the women in built industry

From left: Founder of the Passion Profit School of Entrepreneurship Frida Owinga, former CEO of the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa (FEMCOM) Katherine Ichoya, and Buildher co-founder Tatu Gatere at the 2020 Women in Real Estate Legends and Leaders annual award ceremony held at a Nairobi hotel last week. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The number of women in the built industry in the country is extremely low, a new survey has revealed.
The survey on Women in Real Estate (WIRE) released in the sidelines of their Legends and Leaders Annual Conference and Award ceremony held at a Nairobi hotel shows the real estate industry is still dominated and controlled by men.
The survey was conducted by a group of professionals in the built industry. It says women still lag in an industry that has recorded remarkable growth in the last few years.

WIRE Vice-President Ms Emma Miloyo said the survey’s objective was to bring to light the demographic of women professionals within the construction industry.
Engineers Board of Kenya, (EBK) says the number of female engineers registered is 142 out of 1,936 registered engineers representing 7.3 per cent.
The Association of Construction Managers of Kenya has only 38 women out 278 registered with them which translates in 13.7 per cent. Kenya Institute of Planners indicates only women 62 out 255 planners are in their register, which represents 23.4 per cent.
The Architect Association of Kenya (AAK) only has 90 women out of 763 registered translating to11.8 per cent as at February, 2020.


Quantity Surveyors too, have 78 women of the total 459 registered, a 17 per cent representation.
“The survey has helped us acquire information on the level of participation of women in various fields within the construction industry, and brings to light the opportunities present for them in the industry,” said Ms Miloyo.
She noted that it had also helped establish issues affecting women participation in the industry.
Despite a steady increase in the number of female graduates, women account for a small proportion of employees within the built environment sector in Kenya, says the study.
Statistics provided by EBK, says female graduates account for only 10.6 per cent of the number of engineering graduates recorded by the institution. This means that out of 14,320 graduates, only 1,519 are female.
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. In water works women contractors stand at 996.


“Out of 17,119 contractors registered by the National Construction Authority (NCA) as at November, 2019, only 2,645 female contractors are listed,” the survey indicates.
The Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya data indicates that out of 29 members, only two are women representing seven per cent against 27 men representing 93 per cent.
On professionals, the body says there are 512 members with 60 women representing 12 per cent against 452 men.
The body also has 23 licentiate members one of who is woman, four per cent compared to 22 men accounting to 96 per cent of the total.
The institute also indicates it has 337 graduate members of which 81 are women, accounting for 22 per cent against 292 men.
Out of 192 technicians, 25 are women representing 13 per cent compared to 167 men who take 87 per cent.


Government agencies and professional associations among them NCA, Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors, EBK, AAK, Town and County Planners Association of Kenya, and institutions of higher learning provided the data used in the survey.
Dr Mary Kimani the dean School of Built Environment at University of Nairobi (UON) said the low number of women in the industry is replicated in local universities, which have few women taking real estate and construction-related courses.
“By 2010, there was no female architecture and engineering lecturer at the UON. At least we now have female lecturers in the fields and the first dean of School of Built Environment,” she said.
Emily Samba a construction manager at Main Sail said the mentality that science courses are a preserve for men persists to date.
“This notion has discouraged women and affected those who eventually go for the courses to stay on their respective jobs,” she said.


Former CEO of The Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa (FEMCOM) Katherine Ichoya, said there is a disconnect between practicing professionals and the young upcoming ones.
She proposed that old professionals mentor the young ones through training and capacity building.
Ashley Mwangi, a recent Architect graduate, echoed these sentiments saying there is a disconnect between what is taught at the university and the reality on the ground.
“A lot of information on the real things happening on the ground is missing in the curriculum, providing a challenge to graduates upon finishing land jobs,” she said.
Principal Consultant at Eco Build Africa Prof Alfred Omenya, said gender parity in science-related field only points to an abnormal society.
“There is need to adhere on equality that moves to enhance gender equality. Sometimes, there is need to confront societal norms that enhance gender equality,” he said.

Principal Consultant Eco Build Africa Prof. Alfred Omenya (left) presents Ms Linda Nkatha with the Legends and Leaders Award during the 2020 Women in Real Estate annual award ceremony held at a Nairobi hotel, last week. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Frida Owinga the CEO and founder of the Passion Profit School of Entrepreneurship advised women that their only limitation is looking at their present without looking at what awaits them in future.
WIRE is the industry’s premier networking organisation dedicated to advancing the achievements of women in the built industry.
It seeks to influence the success of the built industry by focusing on fulfilling four key initiatives including business development, leadership development, industry research and career outreach and mentorship.
Rebbeca Wanjiku the CEO of Fireside Group Limited, got the award of woman contractor of the year at the ceremony.
Eunitech Engineering Limited Managing Director Eunice Muhuri, was named legend in practice. She has previously been named woman contractor of the year by NCA.
In the academia and leadership category, the awards went to Dr Isabela Njeri and Gladys Wahome respectively.