When it comes to the construction industry, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that something needs to be done about the number of women in construction. That is to say, the diversity of the construction industry’s workforce is struggling, and female participation in construction is something that firms must aim to improve.
Fortunately, there are ways that construction industry workers can improve their workforce diversity – and this can come with numerous benefits for the brand, as well.
How Many Women are there in the Construction Industry?
Before we can look further, we need to consider the current state of the Australian construction workforce. Indeed, this is crucial for us to tackle if we are to begin making the construction workforce more diverse and representative.
According to the Workplace and Gender Equality Agency, only 11.7% of the total workforce for the construction industry is comprised of women.
This percentage represented a significant drop between 2006 and 2016, with the number of women working in construction falling by 6%. As a further blow, only 1% of workers who are actually involved in manual construction tasks are female.
That’s a staggeringly low proportion. Nonetheless, it’s clear that the construction industry now faces a great deal of opportunity.
While some people might see this as a negative case, it’s worth remembering that now is the time to lead change. Increasing female participation in construction could be a great way for construction brands to ensure they’re doing their bit to promote the vital role of women in construction.
Why Women are Dissuaded From Joining the Construction Industry
There are numerous reasons why women can feel dissuaded to join the construction industry. For construction industry professionals, being aware of these reasons – and working with them could help construction businesses encourage more female participation in construction roles.
One of the most important factors that we need to consider regarding women in construction Australia is the working hours many construction jobs demand. Indeed, the vast majority of construction jobs won’t fall neatly into the regular 9- 5 working pattern that many workers enjoy for their full-time work.
Indeed, once people have worked full time with a 9-5 job, they often struggle to adapt to new job roles. This is something that has undeniably limited the number of women getting involved with the industry.
What’s more, it’s worth considering that the majority of women with families will also be largely or jointly responsible for childcare and other such family responsibilities. To this end, the irregular working hours that can be associated with construction roles may be something that women are unable to meet. Unfortunately, this can further hinder the progress of gender equality in the construction industry in Australia.
As a final point, we should consider the expected working week for construction industry workers. Many construction industry workers can find themselves working 60 to 70 hours per week. And while we’re not saying that women couldn’t achieve those hours on their own, for many women, juggling such a heavy workload expectation with other responsibilities (such as domestic matters and childcare) simply isn’t possible.
Stereotypes Against Women in Construction
There’s no place for stereotypes in the modern Australian construction industry – but that’s not to say that they don’t exist all the same. Indeed, a major limitation for gender equality in the Australian construction industry is stereotyping.
If we mention a construction worker, chances are, you’ll immediately think of a man wearing high-vis gear, perhaps with a tool in his hand. That’s fair enough. But the thought of women in construction often takes a little more time to consider – and this is predominantly because female participation in construction has been so limited.
What’s more, women often feel pressured and burdened by these negative stereotypes in the construction industry. Hence, they can believe they have to work harder for the same recognition as their male counterparts. This can cause a high turnover and poor job satisfaction – potentially contributing to the industry’s struggles to find and retain women to fill Australia’s construction job roles.
So, stereotypes naturally have arisen that the field of construction is not a suitable choice for women. While this couldn’t be further from the truth, it’s still important for Australian construction firms to be aware of this discrimination and negative stereotyping.
Indeed, women in construction can do just as good a job as men. However, it’s crucial they’re allowed to do so in an environment that’s welcoming, helpful, and free from stereotyping and stigma.
Before we start with this point, it is essential to consider that men are often stronger than women- biologically speaking. With that being said, for the vast majority of modern construction roles, the actual manual labour requirements of the role are not so limiting that they should completely stop women from considering a job in construction.
With technology and tools becoming ever more advanced and safety precautions being growingly pressed, it’s fair to say that women can do an excellent job in many construction fields. As an additional opportunity, there are numerous job roles within the field of construction that don’t require heavy lifting and manual labour. Brands should promote these as good alternatives for women to participate in the Australian construction industry without needing the physical strength required for some other roles.
However, the association of construction roles with heavy lifting can put the role of women into question for some people and can leave women dissuaded from participating in the field.
Lack of Australian Role Models for Women in Construction
As a final complication for encouraging further female participation in construction roles, there is a notable lack of women in construction serving as role models. Indeed, as part of breaking the stereotype of construction being a man’s role and encouraging superior gender equality in the Australian construction industry, strong female role models should be promoted.
These female role models could prove helpful in encouraging more Australian women to take up roles in the construction industry. Indeed, the industry as a whole needs to promote the role of women in construction industry jobs to give women the confidence that they, too, could have opportunities in the field of construction.
Organisations such as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) could prove vital in making positive changes for the field. Construction brands must work alongside teams such as these to promote the role of women in these roles.
How to Encourage Women in Construction Australia
At this point, we need to consider how women can be encouraged to get involved with the construction industry. Fortunately, this is something that many construction brands can get involved with to promote gender equality in their workforce! Some steps that construction brands can take to this end include:
- Ensuring the workplace is a safe, friendly, and stereotype-free space
- Creating job roles with working times that more suitably fit female workers’ schedules or providing flexible working arrangements (if such is possible)
- Providing female and male construction workers alike with equal opportunities for progression
- Investing in superior building tools and technologies to reduce the requirement for manual labour and heavy lifting
- Working alongside existing organisations such as NAWIC to promote and encourage women interested in the construction field
- Promote job roles within the construction industry to female applicants aside from just those found on the building site
The Australian construction industry is a crucial employer and plays a pivotal role in promoting the country’s development. Recent efforts have helped bolster the number of women taking on construction roles. Hence, to continue the good work that has already been done, Australian construction brands must attempt to promote gender equality for the industry’s future success.
To find out more about finding new female employees for construction industry roles, get in touch with our team here at Fast Labour Hire – the number one choice for finding skilled experts in your field.
We’ll help you find the best women in construction to join your team to help promote gender equality and brand success for your firm!