How can we increase the number of women in the construction industry? Sheryle Moon outlines the findings of NAWIC’s recent report “What women want in a career in construction?”

Encourage flexibility, embrace diversity and invest in attraction. These are three simple steps that companies can take to increase the number of women in the construction workforce. Our recently released discussion paper, ‘What women want in a construction career’, reveals insights into the biggest challenges women face in securing and maintaining careers in the Australian construction industry.

Currently, just 11.7 per cent of workers in our industry are female. This discussion paper highlights three key challenges – attraction, industry culture and retention – that we must address if we are to maximise the number of women in the construction workforce. Stereotypes and misperceptions about the construction industry continue to dissuade women from seeking construction careers. One of our key recommendations is for industry to invest in early attraction programs to catch young, talented women early in their careers. Another key challenge for the industry is to dismantle the cultural barriers to women’s participation – from inflexible workplaces through to lack of female role models. Organisations that encourage diversity, support mentoring programs and promote female-friendly networking opportunities will reap the benefits. The discussion paper also highlights the need to provide more flexible work environments. Organisations must be willing to support alternative role options and flexible career paths. The paper provides a range of recommendations that should act as a clarion call to our industry. With commitment and dedication, we will not only expand the career opportunities available to women in the construction sector, but also enable our industry to expand its skills base, drive innovation and secure Australia’s reputation as a world leader. Download our report from the NAWIC website.