16 April 2013 — Attraction, industry culture and retention are the three key challenges the construction industry is facing when employing women.

The National Association of Women in Construction’s discussion paper ‘What women want in a construction career’, explores the results a survey and forum undertaken last year.

NAWIC chief executive officer Sheryle Moon said just 11.7 per cent of workers in Australia’s industry were 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.

“Organisations must (also) be willing to support alternative role options and flexible career paths.”

The report also found that bullying does still occur in the industry although “it appears that women feel able to control most negative incidents that stem from gender discrimination, particularly when they feel supported by direct managers, supervisor and colleagues”.

“Women entering a construction career are aware that it is a male-dominated industry and as such are prepared for gender imbalance,” the report says.

“While none condone gender negative behaviour, in many instances most will overlook minor indiscretions and learn to ‘pick their battles’”.

What Women Want in a Construction Career’ is available here.