Breaking Barriers, Building Futures: Empowering Women in Construction


Women in construction are underrepresented numerically and hierarchically. Whether driven by a lack of suitable mentors and training, gender bias, or significant cultural challenges that must be addressed, staggeringly women comprise only 13% of the industry’s workforce.

Fortunately, the tide is turning - due to a growing number of advocates taking action to promote diversity and inclusion across the industry. One of these is Angela Hucker, founder and catalyst at Empowering People in Construction (EPIC). With over 20 years of industry experience, including fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) roles, she knows first-hand the challenges that women face in the sector.

In her words, “The culture significantly needs to change - and the only way that can be achieved is through education and awareness at all levels. We need to make the industry more inviting, and everyone needs to come on the journey.”

Below, we explore how construction professionals and firms can empower women in construction.

The challenges for women in construction

Academic research and numerous studies present sobering statistics about the challenges women face in the construction industry:

Angela says all of these were frequent challenges during her time on site, but motivated her passion to support women in the industry.

“It’s a boiling pot - sexual harassment, bullying, intimidation, and discrimination are common and incredibly overwhelming,” she says.

“Being a female and having to advocate for myself during those times, it had always been in the back of my mind that I would use my knowledge, skills and lived experiences to help others.”

The importance of education and awareness

Angela says these statistics can only be reduced through significant cultural change at an industry level.

“The whole industry needs a significant culture change, but to positively affect change, everyone needs to be part of the solution,” she says.

“This includes providing training for women, and executives and managers, at an operational level. Women need greater support - so companies need to invest in specialised services for their female employees.”

But what should these investments look like? Angela highlights education and awareness of these key issues as the best way to attract and retain women in construction,

“To advance women in the sector, firms need to prioritise investment in their female employees,” she says.

“If promoting women is important to your firm, conduct an internal skills assessment to ascertain what gaps you need to fill in your organisation. Then, provide existing staff with the support they need, whether it’s more training or mentoring, to help them bridge those gaps and advance in their careers.

“Men also need to be educated that the current culture is unhealthy and does not work long term. Companies must invest in a holistic approach that is applied to everyone. Training, education and awareness of key issues can be introduced at the induction phase, and then ongoing, firms can hire industry professionals to run presentations, toolboxes and training at construction sites.”

Angela also says maintaining momentum is crucial to ensuring women continue to rise in their organisation.

“Working as a minority, it’s important that women have the right support wrapped around them so they can advance professionally,” she says.

“This can be as simple as providing coaching sessions or having them join LinkedIn networks. Ultimately, you want to continue giving them services that encourage their personal growth and advance their career. That’s key to retention.”

While education and awareness are vital from an organisational perspective, Angela says there is also more work to be done at an educational level for women in construction.

“While educational institutions can give women the technical skills they need to excel, they also need to be taught soft skills,” she emphasises.

“Women in the construction industry struggle with confidence. And with the industry being notoriously stressful, with lots of pressure and timeframes, we must be helping them build the right mindset to deal with these challenges.

Angela says it's also important that institutions provide proper training on psychosocial hazards to address bullying, sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

“Everyone needs to be part of the culture change, but I would argue that many people cannot confidently identify what these issues look like and may not be aware that it’s actually happening,” she says.

“Education about what it looks like, and what to do if you’re experiencing or witnessing it, will help to address these gaps and issues we’re seeing.”

Pride in what you build

Despite the challenges women face in the sector, Angela’s message to women who aspire to work in the construction industry is clear.

“I can’t speak highly enough about the industry. I’ve been able to travel and see amazing parts of the country and work on projects that still blow my mind,” she says.

“For women who aspire to work in the industry, trust and believe in yourself. Regardless of the statistics, you are absolutely worthy of working in the industry.

“The best part - you will look at buildings and structures in years to come and hopefully have a personal, proud moment, knowing that you played a part in building something incredible.”

Posted By

Nat is the marketing manager for Viewpoint’s Australian office. With fifteen years of experience in the software industry and a passion for construction, she delivers the best solutions to the industry and helps builders get the tools to get the job done.