• ASBEC executive director, Alison Scotland.
    ASBEC executive director, Alison Scotland.

Tackling the gender imbalance in HVACR is key to addressing Australia’s skills shortage.

Recognising that diversity matters, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has launched the Women in Construction Future Leaders Pilot Programme.

While the principal focus of the programme is the construction industry it will benefit a wide range of industries including HVACR, the built environment, even Australia’s clean energy transition.

It is the reason why companies like Temperzone and Beijer Ref were in attendance at the official launch last month.

The pilot programme

Participants at the launch in Sydney last month.
Participants at the launch in Sydney last month.

has the support of ASBEC member companies such as the Air conditioning & Mechanical Contractors Association (AMCA), Insulation Australasia, Engineers Australia and the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC).

Women make up only 12 per cent of the construction industry in Australia.

The pilot will focus on the retention of women, as well as improving leadership opportunities for women working in the industry.

ASBEC executive director, Alison Scotland, said the pilot began with a survey to identify challenges that hinder women in construction.

Over 130 women completed the survey including designers, architects, project managers, trades, associations, and product suppliers to the building industry.

It wasn’t just the trades that had poor representation the survey found that the participation rate of women on Boards was alarmingly low.

Almost one in five workplaces had no women on their Board of Directors, with 50 per cent of respondents having less than 10 per cent female board representation.

On a positive note 80 per cent liked or loved the industry but 63 per cent of workplaces had very few female role models.

As a result, 58 per cent of women surveyed did not have a clear understanding of how to achieve their five to 10 year career goals.

The downside to working in construction was the predominantly male-dominated culture, subpar working conditions, gender-based wage disparities, limited leadership opportunities, instances of bullying and sexual harassment.

Interestingly, respondents said it was worse for older women as their age made them invisible and their qualifications were not recognised.

Funding for the pilot was provided by the NSW government which has made available $20.2 million over three years.