April 4, 2019

Our director, Lara Domajnko, was lucky enough to attend the HIA Building Women seminar last week. Post this seminar we felt compelled to write about the importance and benefits of women in construction now and into the future.

It is the age of women’s empowerment and women’s equality. Now is the best time for women to be entering the construction industry. Here at Milara Building, we value a woman’s worth in this sector and it’s time to start making waves in the industry to voice our opinions on why women are beneficial for the construction industry. More importantly, what initiatives can our industry do as a whole to encourage women to choose construction as a career. Some clearly alarming statistics continue to be thrown around including some reports that only 1 in 100 tradespeople are females and less than 9% of workers in construction are women (Mostly reflected in admin and office positions). Similarly to IT and cybersecurity, construction in Australia is one of the most notoriously male dominated professions.

The benefits of gender equality and diversity within organisations are well documented. When it comes to accomplishing goals or building a solid relationship, the feminine touch and skills like empathy, intuition and optimism cannot be understated.

Gender equity and diversity among the construction sector is a persistent problem which exacerbates skills shortages, reduces economic productivity and reduces innovative capacity. A women’s emotional intelligence, passion and helpful nature creates positive internal and external stakeholder relationships. So why aren’t women choosing construction for their career? Furthermore, what more can we do to devise innovative solutions to attract and retain women in construction.

Unfortunately, women are still facing significant challenges in the construction industry (as in many other industries) including gender bias, sexual harassment, lack of adequate resources and benefits as well as social perceptions. Despite these challenges, there are many great reasons for women to join the construction industry. We must change the way the building construction industry is perceived. We must challenge stigmas and perceptions and we must highlight and bring awareness to the reasons why women are critical for the future of the Australian construction industry. We must educate both, women who are thinking about entering the construction industry and the construction industry as a whole, about the benefits of gender equality.

To all of the women out there considering a career in construction, these are some important reasons as to why this is the industry for you….

1. Leadership Opportunities:

The shortage of female leaders provides opportunities for women to improve team performance, contribute fresh perspectives, and advance their careers and have room for growth.

2. Higher Income Potential:

On average, women who work construction and trade careers earn up to 30% more than traditional female-dominated careers like administrative assistants and childcare.

3. There is a Labor Shortage

The need for construction workers is expected to grow as the population of Australia continues to expand at a rapid rate. This opens the opportunity for high-paying, stable jobs for women.

4. Feeling of Achievement

One of the best feelings is being able to build something from the ground up. Working in construction allows women to receive this feeling of achievement and develop a passion for building. Both men and women loved playing with Lego when they were growing up.

5. Practical Skills

Construction skills like team building, project management, and working with new IT and systems can be applied to other sectors and careers as well.

6. Joining Other Women

Choosing a career in construction means joining the ranks of women who are heading up the industry movement — women like the “Melbourne Chippy Chick” with her “tradie lady club” are leading the way for women in building.

To the construction managers, leaders and influencers, this is how women can make a positive impact on the industry.

1. Team spirit and team centred goals

Women value relationship and try to understand other people’s point of view. When these characteristics are applied to a workplace and to client interactions, it creates a positive dialogue of communication whereby the other stakeholder feels understood and heard. This ability to interactive and build repour makes them a powerful force in construction in both internal and external negotiations.

Having women on teams can also enhance collaboration as research has shown that groups that have more women were better and taking turns in conversion This skill is invaluable to make the most of meetings with combined knowledge and skills when collaborating on projects. Let’s face it, we’ve all been a part of a meeting which felt more like a merri-go-round and people were listening to talk, not listening to understand.

2. Strong Management Skills

Long gone are the days when women in management were stereotyped as being emotional and erratic. Women have superb management skills. From caring for families to motivating large teams, they can help to manage the process efficiently and effectively.

Their often emphatic and inclusive management style have the ability to inspire employees and increase their productivity and employees feel apart of something greater. As we know from Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, after food, water and safety, a sense of belonginess is for one’s self-fulfilment.

3. Non-verbal cue identification

Psychological studies have shown that women are the better gender for decoding non verbal cues and understanding subtle emotional messages. This is critical in sales and internal stakeholder negotiations as this allows them to notice the often-unspoken emotions of confusion, stress or cognitive dissonance.

The benefit of being able to identify these non verbal skills is that help are able to aid communication by highlighted issues and devising solutions before a small issue becomes larger or before a sale is lost. Having this ability aids others to communicate their problems. This in turn builds trust and comfort as the other party has a sense of feeling of being understood and heard.

4. Well rounded work force:

Women can be sensitive and intuitive. An article from Psychologytoday.com reports that new research shows that “Women consistently outperform Men in EQ” whereby “Women topped men in 11 or 12 emotional intelligence measures”. This helps to create a well-rounded workforce whereby there is greater understanding of one another.

Furthermore due to this nature, they are able to address and resolve any workplace problems or tensions before they get out of hand.

5. Different perspectives

Having both men and women on your workforce means that you benefits from different life experiences, different approaches to situations and different opinions. An environment with varying perspectives enhancing creativity and innovation to capitalise on proposed initiatives for success and growth.

Women are practical, professional and great problem solvers, They are intuitive, understanding, persuasive, great communicators and make superb managers, so what can our industry do to help attact more women to the industry?

Here are some things we feel the construction industry needs to incentives women to join construction.

  1. Flexibility in the workplace. This extends beyond flexible work hours and days. Some of the best companies in Australia have implemented initiatives such as RDO’s for office workers, wellness days and birthday leave
  2. Encouraging and setting diversity values within our organisations with all leaders trained in inclusion skills
  3. Paid parental leave for both men and women
  4. Annual pay parity analysis
  5. Developing innovations and technologies to make trades less labour intensive
  6. Providing mentoring programs for women and attendance at women’s construction networking events

In today’s global market scenario where communication and collaboration are highly valued to achieve success, women have a considerable advantage in the workplace. Women’s empowerment is now a global phenomenon and the future of women in business is bright. We must improve the involvement of women in construction.

The best time to start this was 10 years ago, the second-best time is now. We all need to work together to inform, educate and highlight (1) why women should join construction, (2) the benefits of women in the workforce and (3) what the construction industry can start to implement to improve the gender disparity in building.