Women in Construction Week 2021: Uthira Balachandar
10 March 2021
Women in Construction Week 2021: Lisa Richard
12 March 2021

Women in Construction Week 2021: Karen Purdy

At Reds10, we believe that every day is the right time to celebrate, empower and uplift our staff - all of them - because whether it is a particular awareness week or not, they do their jobs and they do them exceptionally well. We #choosetochallenge in our everyday lives - whether it is the misconceptions about modular construction, or the roles of our team within it. We implore our industry, daily, not just to pay lip service to the various issues it faces, but to make a real change. Today.

But, we recognise as well, the value in celebrating women in construction together, as a industry-wide initiative. So, join us to talk to some of our staff during Women In Construction Week 2021.

What is it?

The focus of Women in Construction (WIC) Week is to highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry, to raise awareness of the opportunities available for women in the construction industry and to emphasize the growing role of women in the industry.

Karen Purdy, Business Coordinator

After leaving Sheffield Hallam University my first significant role was as an Estimator in the steel cabin industry at Gateway Fabrications in East Yorkshire.  As time went on I found myself getting involved with design work, customer services, I assisted the sales dept and also did the production programme.  It was during my time there that I first studied with the Open University, doing a degree in Philosophy and English.  Completely unconnected with construction but fascinating all the same.

I then spent a few years working on the electrical side of modular construction for Influx Electrical and then for a commercial door manufacturer.  My roles at these companies included estimating, design, specifications and CE markings.  I also managed the company’s ISO14001 which was extremely useful to me as I was working through my third degree at the time, again with the OU but this time in Environmental Studies.  I started to work closely with the procurement department and liaising with suppliers which is something I would continue with in my next role.

When I started work here in Driffield, my role had changed to Business Coordinator which suited both myself and the demands of the company.  These days I deal with purchasing, plant hire, deliveries, O&M manuals and anything else needed to assist in the day to day operations here at the factory site.   The latest project which I am very pleased to be involved with is the community initiative where Reds10 are looking to help various organisations, schools and charities in the Driffield and Wolds area.

When I was 15, the careers advisor came into school and on that particular day, I wanted to be a valuation surveyor in the housing market.  If the advisor had visited the week before I may have ended up at catering college or law school.  I changed my mind so often as what I wanted to do, so it was simply the timing of the career advisors visit that meant I ended up studying Construction at Hull College.

There was no grand scheme, absolutely no ambition fuelled dream of being in construction.  I was completely naïve about the industry and to the many jobs associated with construction.  No one in my family was in the industry and so the courses I studied introduced me to the possible options available including estimator, buyer, architect, surveyor, civil engineer and so on.  By doing well on the college diploma courses, I felt confident enough to continue studying construction at University and so this slightly impulsive idea that I wanted to be a surveyor just took me further along the construction route.

The industry is a lot more professional and innovative than I imagined when I first started.  Stereotypical images of muddy building sites in the middle of winter are very much at odds with the factory based construction we do here.  It’s much more of a controlled environment and has the convenience of all the design, commercial, facilities and finance teams being right next door in the office.

I think the one thing we all enjoy is seeing the latest project, fully installed and ready to hand over to the client.  Regardless of what your role is within the company there is something very rewarding about seeing the finished building.

I will also admit I like being a female in a non-traditional industry.  It hasn’t always been easy.  In fact during the early years it was often quite difficult but it is hugely encouraging to see more women getting involved in construction and being treated (as everyone should be treated) in a professional manner.  There is still a fair way to go in the industry as a whole but workplaces like ours at Reds10 benefit hugely from having a healthy mix of people from various backgrounds, ages and experiences and that of course, includes the many women involved with the company.

Some people undoubtably still look at construction in a negative way, but hopefully we can make a few small changes to that as we get more involved in the community side of things.  It’s early days, but by forging good relations with the local schools and colleges we can hopefully show these young people that whatever their background, working in construction is a real option for them and it involves a lot more than just bricklaying.

What would I say to my younger self? Be a little more outspoken.  You can still be diplomatic and polite but be more outspoken.


Visit our team page for more bios of some of our staff.

If you would like to join our team, email us to find out more about our current vacancies.

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