‘My mission to get more women into construction’

In her role at Liverpool’s Riverside Group Millie Edwards oversees the building of schemes costing over £40m and is determined to inspire more women into construction. Tony McDonough reports

construction, building, industry, women
There is a record number of women in UK construction but the percentage is just 15.8%


There are now record numbers of women working in the UK construction sector but they still make up less than one-fifth of the workforce.

According to the Office for National Statistics there were around 1.8m men employed in the UK construction industry in 2023. This compares to around 340,000 women. It is the highest number since records began but still represents just 15.8% of the workforce.

Millie Edwards is determined to get that number much bigger. She is a development project manager at affordable housing provider, Riverside Group. The Liverpool-based business has 76,000 homes across the UK.

This week is Women in Construction week and Friday, March 8, is also International Women’s Day. Millie wants to use this week to help inspire more girls and women into her industry.

She regularly oversees construction projects costing more than £40m. Millie started her career in housing management but since moving into construction eight years ago she has never looked back.

“I had no qualifications in construction or development when Riverside first asked me to step up into a temporary role managing a 170-home project,” she said.

“It was a steep learning curve and very different to what I’d done previously but I was supported along the way to develop technical knowledge and after my success, was offered the chance to permanently join the development team.”

Ever since, Millie has been involved in the delivery of thousands of affordable homes spanning multiple development projects across the country, including extra care apartments.

She added: “I loved working in housing management, and it has certainly enriched my role in development, but I’m glad I took the leap.

“In my previous role I focused on our customers and supporting them to manage their tenancies, while managing our properties as long-term assets. 

“Through this I got to understand what is important to our customers and what they want and need for their homes, which I’m able to use as development project manager to influence decisions while we bring homes to life.”

Although figures show increases in women working in construction, Millie feels the story feels quite different on the ground.

“I’ve worked in the housing industry for 18 years and while I’ve definitely seen a slow and gradual rise in the number of women working in construction, there’s still a lot of work to be done to tackle the gender imbalance,” she explained.

Focused on upskilling herself and progressing in her construction career, Millie has recently graduated with a First Class (Hons) in construction management.


Millie Edwards
Millie Edwards, a development project manager at Riverside Group


“I was only one of two women studying while completing my construction management apprenticeship, which was a class of 30 people, and again during my Construction Management degree which was a smaller group of 12,” she said.

“At Riverside, across our development team, most of us are female, though are mainly sitting in management roles rather than trade positions.

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“Of course it is amazing to hear of rises within the industry and more so to see women in leadership, but it’s especially far off being a 50/50 split of men and women when it comes to skilled tradespeople working predominantly on building sites.

“I’m always in awe when I see a female in a trade role because you sadly still don’t come across them as often as you’d hope.

“I think there is more to be done around actively seeking different demographics and promoting the opportunities available within the industry earlier, to help young girls and women realise there is more they could achieve and be a part of.”

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