Buildings would be more user-friendly if women were behind their design, a report released by UK consultancy Atkins, as part of broader studies into urban design leading up to the London 2012 Olympics, says.

But despite more than nine out of ten UK adults believing in the benefit of female designers, 33% of women, according to Atkins, are still put off by a career in this sector due to the prevalence of men.

The Atkins study suggests that skills shortages are likely to continue with only 8% of women saying they would even consider a role in the industry.

More than half the women interviewed said if more women worked in design and construction, they would consider careers in these areas.

Atkins group HR director Alun Griffiths says Atkins itself has been struggling to create a workforce with gender equality.

“Our own experience suggests women are particularly strong at collaboration and partnership – essential skills in any project,” Griffiths says.

“A diverse workforce helps us to bring different perspectives and a variety of approaches to the table, helping us to meet the challenges of the major design and development projects we’re working on around the world.”

By Penny Jones