• NSW will triple the number of women working in construction
    NSW will triple the number of women working in construction

The Construction Industry Culture Taskforce (CICT) has welcomed a $20.2 million commitment from the New South Wales government to triple the number of women working in construction.

The funds will be used to address root cause cultural issues limiting the sustainability and productivity of the sector.

Announcing the funds, NSW treasurer Matt Kean said the government has a goal of 15 per cent women in construction by 2030, with a view towards reaching a more gender-balanced industry into the future.

"The latest estimates show that skills shortages in the Australian construction industry could top 105,000 workers by 2023," Kean said.

"Increasing the number of women in the construction is essential to lower the gender pay gap and ensure we have the skilled workforce required to deliver the government’s record $110.4 billion infrastructure pipeline."

CICT chair Gabrielle Trainor AO said construction is the most male dominated industry in Australia. It also has the widest pay gap of any industry.

She said the culture of the industry is one of the biggest turn-offs for women who are leaving the industry around 40 per cent faster than men.

“We believe construction can be an important driver of the participation of women in the NSW workforce – but a wholesale step-change is required if we’re going to get more women into the industry and at decision-making tables,” Trainor said.

“That’s why we are focusing on addressing the culture through a new culture standard which proposes a range of requirements, including bringing working hours into line with other industries and an improved focus on mental health and wellbeing.

“This work is being developed in a collaboration with industry, government, and academic research and the funding is a great step forward in tackling these challenges head on.

“Increasing women involved in this sector will make the industry more productive and grow the economy.”

Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Rob Stokes said that women currently make up about five per cent of the construction workforce and Infrastructure NSW would work closely with industry to reach the 2030 goal.

“Historic skills shortages coupled with the biggest infrastructure program our state has ever seen means there is no better time to support more women to pursue a career in the construction industry,” Stokes said.

“This funding will go towards breaking down the cultural barriers that stop women from considering a career in construction and help them smash through the gyprock ceiling.”

Minister for Women's Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Natalie Ward said the government will work towards its 15 per cent goal by shifting the culture in construction and leading by example on its own worksites.

“We have to ensure women on construction sites have access to adequate, clean amenities, necessary personal protective equipment, that worksites are free of offensive materials and there are opportunities for more flexibility in working hours,” Ward said.

"Women employed in male-dominated environments are at greater risk of sexual and gender harassment compared with the national average, but this plan can help improve the experience of women in construction."

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