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Change is happening as we speak. From architects and engineers to construction workers and project managers, women now comprise 14 per cent of the building and construction industry, a sector renowned for being male-dominated.

Women are not only paving the way for future generations, but they are also bringing fresh perspectives to the industry. And with their hard work and dedication, they are proving that gender is no barrier to success.

At Dahlsens, we are extremely fortunate to have a growing number of women in our team. You’ll find them supporting customers in trade stores, driving forklifts in the timber yard, on the road visiting building sites and driving progress in our leadership team. As valued team members, we celebrate their contributions.

But it’s not just at Dahlsens where women are making an impact. Right across the industry, females are at the frontier. Dahlsens sat down with an incredible bunch of women to hear about their experiences and share their stories.

Thank you to this inspiring bunch of women for sharing your experiences in the building industry. There are many more of you out there, may you continue to make an impact!

What attracted you to the building industry?

Kersten: My family. My grandfather owned a sawmill and timber yard and was a logging contractor. He was my idol.

Georgia: I just like being outdoors, really. Originally, I was doing a carpentry apprenticeship.

Liz: My dad was a builder, so it’s in my blood. I go to work and I love what I do. I’m very lucky.

Fiona: I’ve always been interested in the regulatory environment and also the tangible element of the building industry, of seeing an end product – creating a home – and a safe haven for everyone to go to at the end of the day. It’s just a wonderful thing to be involved with.

Have you faced any challenges as a female in a largely male-dominated industry?

Kirsty: It took a little bit of time to convince older clientele that I was just as capable as male colleagues with things like product knowledge. I still face that sometimes today – older generations going towards the guys in the store.

Jacinta: I think every job will have its challenges but if you love your job you will find a way to overcome your challenges.

Fiona: For me, the challenges I see are in resolving the perceptions that you can’t do a certain role because you are female. Whilst I’ve had a great experience, I’m aware that many women might not, and that’s why I’m passionate about highlighting to women that there is something for everyone in building – so many exciting roles and jobs to do.

Do you see females being treated differently in your workplace?

Kersten: The change in our industry over my three plus decades has been huge. In the early days, quite often I was the only woman at the table and yes, it was hard to be heard.

Rosie: Yes, slightly, but I see the men in the industry trying to protect the women, wanting to ensure that we are OK.

Georgia: Not here, no. But when I was on the building site, and I had to lift something, the boys would ask, “can you actually lift that?”. But in the end, once they get to know your abilities, they’re fine.

Jacinta: Slightly. Some people will doubt you, but that’s where you have to prove them wrong. It won’t always be easy, but it’s worth it.

How can women be supported to succeed in our industry?

Kersten: Communication is the key to succeeding in any role, no matter the gender. I encourage everyone to find someone professionally they can bounce ideas off.

Rosie: Education, knowledge, training and exposure.

Georgia: Just to be backed. Give us a go. Don’t tell us we can’t do it when we actually can.

What strengths and skills do women bring to our industry?

Kirsty: Diversity. Women can look at things differently, have different ideas and ways to approach things.

Liz: I think we naturally have more empathy. I like to think I know my clients pretty well and I listen to what’s going on with them and the challenges they’re facing.

Jacinta: I think women bring a lot to the design aspect of the industry, along with organisation, team leadership and empathy.

You’re an inspirational female in the building industry. Have you drawn inspiration from any other women, in person or from afar?

Kirsty: My mum. She’s in the motor industry, which is also male-dominated. To see how she thrives in that male-dominated industry is an inspiration.

Rosie: Within the Dahlsens group, our female account manager, Rachael Holloway from Bayswater. She inspires me. She is a working mum, successful in her career and her knowledge and ability to be agile/fluid in this industry should
be commended.

What is your ideal future for women in building?

Kirsty: It would be great to get more women into management positions, and to get that balance, which is the way it’s starting to head now.

Georgia: When I was doing my building trade, I was the only one there. Then when I went to TAFE, there were three of us. I’d like to see more women right across the industry.

Fiona: An ideal future is one where women see building as an ‘industry of choice’ – a future where women freely enter a career in our industry and are encouraged to do so.

Liz: I look forward to the day that being a woman in this industry is the norm.

Since contributing to this article, Georgia Davis, Yard Person at Dahlsens Morisset, has returned to her apprenticeship to finish her carpentry qualifications. Congratulations Georgia, we are so proud of you. Thanks for your contribution!