Women in construction. It’s far from being a novel concept, but for some reason the phrase still attracts special attention, in spite of significant strides toward gender equality. It’s an industry that hasn’t shaken its traditional gender association.

Fortunately, this is changing. More women are taking up construction jobs in roles that were, and still are, male dominated. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women made up 12 per cent of the construction workforce in 2010-11 and that rose to 16.2 per cent in 2014. It is slow but steady progress.

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) was established in part to encourage women to pursue careers in construction. It promotes training, networking, support and recognition of women already in or eager to get involved with the industry.

Master Builders also fully supports women in construction, whether they are someone in the industry looking to get ahead in their current career, or interested in making a change to launch a new career in the industry. We provide many training opportunities and have some strong spokespeople in our organisation who have taken similar action and can share their experiences.

Currently, women represent only 3.6 per cent of CEO or head-of-business roles in construction in Australia, 13.6 per cent of key management personnel, 2.6 per cent of technician or trade roles and 10.5 per cent of labourers. These figures may be relatively tiny, but are certainly headed for growth.

Master Builders’ own Emma Dunlop offers just one example of the ways in which women are entering the construction industry. In 2009, Emma Dunlop left her nanny and childcare work to join Master Builders’ customer service team and moved on to become an integral member of the OHS team who conduct daily site visits in order to complete OHS audits. She says she still encounters very few other women on work sites, and when she does they are usually directing traffic and working well clear of tools.


Master Builders’ OHS crew members Emma Dunlop and James Curtin on site.

Emma started her career change by enrolling in Master Builders’ Certificate III in Work Health & Safety (WHS). This gave her the base knowledge to get started in the OHS department. She excelled both in the office and on site audits, and so chose to study the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety to further her knowledge in the field. The next step for Emma is completion of the Diploma in WHS, which will add considerably to her professional development and enhance her value to Master Builders as a top-quality service provider to our members.

Master Builders offers many courses in Work Health and Safety, management, builder registration and short courses to assist with professional development. We are always eager to help women with their questions about how to become active in the industry, and about the courses that will get them headed in the best direction. Contact the Training Department on (03) 9411 4555 to learn more.