Paving the Way: Women in Construction
Who says building and construction is only for the boys?
We know diversity in workforces delivers many benefits; Gallup research suggests gender-diverse teams perform better than single-gender teams as men and women have different viewpoints, ideas and market insights which can aid better problem solving. Hence the push to smooth out gender segregation in Australia’s workforces, such as in STEM fields, child care and the construction industry where only 12% of workers are female.
Hutchinson Builders, Australia’s largest privately-owned construction company, is a major sponsor of NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction).
“When you add women to a construction site it changes the culture for the better.”
“While we encourage the employment and advancement of women in our own company, we support NAWIC because we believe it’s one of the best ways we can promote this more broadly,” says Peter Lee, Hutchies Team Leader – Townsville.
“Our recruitment strategy has always been about identifying the best person for the role, it is no coincidence we now have a higher number of women within our organisation – women are now identifying construction as a viable career option.”
The Hutchies Townsville team includes seven women in construction, in various positions –contract administrators (CAs), estimating assistant, apprentice carpenter, receptionist, and quality support officer. For Sherry Cullen, a CA at Hutchies, the key to cracking into a male-dominated industry was choosing the right company to work for.
“I saw my career progression coming down to a) hard work, and b) having supportive men and women in leadership positions within our industry,” says Sherry. “I selected an employer that ensures I have equal opportunity and supports the advancement of women in construction, so that our industry can become one that builds character and courage for women. Hutchies is very much like a family, that values its people.”
Currently, Sherry is working on projects for Whitsundays Regional Council and Australian Institute of Marine Science. Fellow CA, Stacy Jacobsen, is working on St Patrick’s College’s new $15m performing arts, library and learning building. Stacy’s presence on site is a reminder to the school’s students that construction is a valid career option.
“There are benefits to women working in construction,” says Sherry, “we offer a different perspective for problem-solving, we’re naturally good multi-taskers and when you add women to a construction site it changes the culture for the better.”