The untapped power of welcoming more women into the construction industry
On the 8 March every year, people from around the globe celebrate International Women’s Day to showcase the gleaming achievements of women across all industries and walks of life. But what this day also represents is a marker – a day to take the pulse on the overall movement towards equality and pinpoint the gaps where there is still work to be done.
According to the Workplace and Gender Equality Agency, only 11.7% of the total workforce within the construction industry are made up of women. Sadly, this figure is unsurprising with many quick to acknowledge construction as a male dominated field.
What is stopping women from entering the construction industry?
- Unconscious Gender Bias
There are various factors that have contributed over the years to such a wide gender gap in the industry – the greatest of which is likely unconscious gender bias. However, through appropriate recruitment practices, discrimination policies and training, it can be eliminated.
If we look back, gender bias hasn’t always been present. Take the 1940s – women took over traditionally male dominated roles, such as construction, during the war to support society and the economy.
- Lack of representation
With such little representation of females across construction, and even less so in leadership roles, many women may not even consider joining the industry. Representation helps to build inclusivity and perception and helps to reinforce their potential to contribute and achieve career goals.
In speaking with Streetbuild Quantity Surveyor, Catherin O’Sullivan, her experience showcased the lack of representation.
“When I started in the early 2000’s in New Zealand, out of my initial class of 20 women, only 3 finished the diploma in Quantity Surveying and as far as I know, I am the only one still in the industry. Working in the Tier 1 company in New Zealand, they didn’t have any other female Quantity Surveyors. It wasn’t until I moved to Australia 10 years ago that I had the opportunity to work with other women.”Catherin O’Sullivan
- Inadequate education & resources
According to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources in 2019, women made up less than a quarter (22%) of all Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related enrolments.
With lingering gender bias and a lack of representation among these related fields, the only way forward is to provide additional education and resources to support and encourage the women in the construction community to grow and prosper. There are a number of organisations such as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Women in Construction that are paving the way by empowering and championing women in the construction industry, but there is still a significant way to go to achieve the vision of equity.
How can the construction industry benefit from welcoming more women into its workforce?
- Wider talent pool
Women make up 47.4% of the workforce across Australia. It’s clear that the industry has work to do, but more importantly, there are many opportunities to tap into. With the construction industry predicted to grow by 10% by 2025 to employ over 1.2 million people, having a wider pool of talent that reflects the current society we live in will benefit the industry.
- Increase innovation and teamwork
Having a mix of different people with varying perspectives, experiences and approaches often sparks debate and allows for a deeper examination. Rather than always falling on “this is the way it’s always been done” this environment of challenging the status quo enables greater creativity and innovation.
It’s not just the project and clients that benefit from diversified teamwork. Streetbuild’s Marketing Coordinator, Genevieve Hiscox identifies the impact it has on personal skill building.
“Being able to work in a large, diverse team is a skill that can be applied to all kinds of relationships – inside and outside of the workplace. Nothing is built on the efforts of one person alone and working in a team to achieve a single goal is one of the best parts of work.”Genevieve Hiscox
- Greater profitability
The numbers don’t lie. A McKinsey study ‘Why Diversity Matters’, revealed that diverse companies achieved 19% higher revenue due to greater innovation. The same study also uncovered that companies with gender-diverse leadership teams were 15% more likely to achieve above-average profitability than companies with less diversity.
With employment opportunities expanding across the industry over the coming years, now is the time to tap into the power of encouraging more women into the construction industry workforce.
We all have our part to play in closing the gender gap. At Streetbuild, our Head Office team is made up of a 20:80 female to male ratio. Today, we stand together to celebrate International Women’s Day and all the women that we are so grateful to have on our team.
“Streetbuild always warmly welcomes female construction professionals into our business. The women we have in our organisation are capable, competent and demonstrate great leadership and teamwork which lifts everyone’s performance. Streetbuild embraces diversity and aims to reflect the broader community in the makeup of our workforce.“Graeme Street
We are passionate about developing our team members and offer direct access to mentoring from our senior and executive management.
If you are interested in learning more about opportunities within the construction industry, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.