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Hackney construction pioneer Kath Moore, who paved way for women in the industry, made MBE

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 June 2018

Kath Moore, MBE.

Kath Moore, MBE.

Archant

When Kath Moore started working as a carpenter in 1981, she was a woman in a men’s world.

The construction industry is not the most women-friendly work environment – but Kate was made an MBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours for helping change that.

A Hackney resident of three decades, Kath taught carpentry at the Camden Training Centre for 18 years.

Her work on gender imbalance in the construction industry began in 2008, when the Olympics Delivery Authority decided it wanted more women in its workforce. She was then asked to collaborate on the Women’s Project.

“I thought: ‘Oh yes – it’s about time someone recognises that you’ve got a bit of a problem here,’” she told the Gazette. “It was great to have the opportunity to do something about it.”

Within three years, they had more than doubled the number of women working in construction for the Olympics.

The project then became an independent non-profit organisation called Women in Construction.

It focuses on training women and starting off their careers, putting them in touch with contractors and organising work placements.

“The main difficulty is being accepted within the industry,” said Kath. “People are not really sure that women can do the work. Once they get in and have the opportunity to show that they can do it, then in my experience they’re absolutely fine.”

Things have changed a great deal since Kath she was the only woman working on a whole construction site.

Contractors are more aware of the issue, and it has become more normal to see female brickies, digger drivers or engineers.

But there is still work to do.

“There are companies that during the selection process are taking names out of CVs and they’ve found that they are hiring more women and workers from a BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] background,” she said. “I think there’s quite a bit of unconscious bias that still goes on.”

The award comes in a special year for women’s rights.

“It’s particularly timely to be recognised in 2018 as we celebrate 100 years since the first women gained the vote in the UK, and 50 years since the Dagenham and Halewood female Ford workers went on strike for equal pay.”

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