Women Gain Ground in Design and Construction

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by Abigail Harrison, Women in Design and Construction, Originally published via Sourceable

In recent years, we have absorbed countless inquisitions into the modernisation of gender stereotypes; challenging archetypal builders, hunters, and creators synonymous with masculinity, legalising underground mining for women, and celebrating the “female tradie”.

As Australia shifts towards equal opportunity through dismantling gender norms, it’s an amazing time to be a female in design, engineering, and construction.

Australian women make up a growing 12% of our construction industry, so how can we ensure our country’s third largest employment sector continues to inspire females into trade?

In order for women to take advantage of the fantastic career and job opportunities that our industry has on offer, increasing solidarity among women, prioritising diversity and offering the ability to explore construction and design roles to younger generations are vital elements to the growth of female representation.

Several major construction companies in Australia have made it their business to implement more gender diverse initiatives such as formal recruitment policies, formal mentoring, and parental leave schemes for both male and female employees to promote work life balance.

This ensures that females are offered and supplied with all the tools they require for success in a male dominant industry, promoting equal opportunity for career prospecting, nurturing growth and providing mentoring, encouraging management positions, and ensuring women are not at a detriment if they choose to pursue a family.

Scholarships and grants are being made available within education and trades communities to encourage female graduates to upskill and further their careers with tickets and qualifications, aimed at increasing the number of women on construction sites.

Events and networking groups across the country are taking it upon themselves to start conversations which encourage women to join communities that harness female representation, discover relevant topics for personal growth, augment their personal and professional networks, and stay up to date on industry developments.

Althea Papinzcak and Erin Oxley are the founding Directors of WIDAC (Women in Design and Construction) who began a networking and events company for women in industry to explore relevant topics after attending an industry event titled, “How to Dress for your Body Shape”.

Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC) is a national organisation which seeks to empower, inspire and support women in the design and construction fields as well as other relevant industries. Through promoting a culture of challenging change and fostering resilience, WIDAC establishes a welcoming community where like-minded individuals can congregate through networking and workshop events.

Initiatives like WIDAC encourage women to be more confident about what they have to contribute. It is paramount that communities which rally for equality become more comfortable enlisting men as allies, just as men have become more open to being allies. It is this mentality that will be the ultimate catalyst for change.

Through creating a community of powerful and engaged females to explore pathways to leadership, improve mental health, mentor graduates, and curate programs and initiatives to give back to women in design, construction and related industries, women from all different backgrounds and skill sets can continue to feel inspired to contribute, and make a difference to an industry which shows no signs of slowing down.

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