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Women Into Construction at Brent Cross West

June 24, 2021

New station welcomes two new members to the team as part of our support for more diversity in construction.

“This has been brilliant. It’s offered us an opportunity to go on-site at such an exciting project, to see such a new train station being built, and to contribute to that whilst also exploring a new career for ourselves.” 

That is the verdict of Natalia Bokhonko, one of two women who have spent a fortnight working on Brent Cross West station thanks to work placements through the organisation Women Into Construction. The initiative is designed to tackle the gender imbalance in the construction industry, and its goals are shared by the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration programme. 

Natalia and Leila Sadeghi Bogar shadowed staff working across the site, and both have a much clearer vision of what they hope to do. 

Natalia contacted Women Into Construction when she was looking at a change of career, after working successfully in marketing.

And Iran-born Leila is already a qualified electric engineer who has worked as a site manager and project manager in Iran. 

Natalia said: “What really appeals to me is the idea that you’re building something useful for people. It is really valuable to people’s lives and will be used every day. 

“The whole Brent Cross Cricklewood programme, with new homes and new jobs, is helping to put a roof over people’s heads – it really matters. It’s why I wanted to work in construction.” 

Encouraging more women to consider careers in construction is a key challenge for the entire industry, with women outnumbered 7:1 nationally. 

Leila admitted that there are challenges for women of entering the male-dominated construction industrybut said that the mentality at Mace was that everyone should be supported regardless of gender. 

Leila said: “People here just want to help. They want to help, and if you ask a question they really listen and explain it. 

“Getting into construction isn’t easy for people like us, but this has shown that there is a route. It’s given me the sense that I can re-join this industry here in the UK.” 

As part of their time working on the station, the women have seen the example of Sam Wadsworth, Brent Cross West Programme Director for Barnet Council’s partner Mace Group. 

And while Sam has seen greater equality during her career, she says that a better gender balance is better for men, women, and the industry as a whole 

“I’ve been managing projects in the rail industry since I was 26 and in the early days I’d often be the only female on the site,” she said.  

“Today that has changed with more women working in the rail industry, and local authorities such as Barnet Council are particularly good at promoting females to senior positions.” 

Sam added: “It’s important for women to have a more diverse range of careers open to them, and the pandemic has shown the benefits for the sector too. Men and women have responded differently to the challenges of Coronavirus, and that range of experiences and styles makes us more robust.” 

Read more about our commitment to providing opportunities on the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration programme, from apprenticeships to community funding to challenging the under-representation of women in construction, here. 

You can also read our story about some of our leading females on the programme here. 

And you can visit the Women Into Construction website here.