UNSW awarded $2.3M grant to empower women in construction

Under the Federal Government’s Women’s Leadership and Development Program, researchers from The University of New South Wales (UNSW) have been awarded a $2.3 million grant to help attract, retain and progress women in the construction industry.

“The construction industry is one of the largest industries in Australia, but also the most male-dominated sector with women representing only 12 per cent of its workforce, a decline from 17 per cent in 2006, despite many efforts to improve this figure,” said project leads Dr Cynthia Wang and A/Prof Riza Sunindijo from the School of Built Environment at UNSW Faculty of Arts, Design & Architecture.

The project will involve engaging female high-school students, university construction students and women working in construction roles to explore the vast career opportunities available in the industry.

“The first goal of this project is to change people’s perception that the construction industry is only for men. The project will specifically target increasing the awareness of female high-school students, parents, and career advisors about the great prospect of working in this sector. This is a very important first step to attract women into construction,” explained the researchers.

“Second, the project provides scholarships and career development support for female students studying construction in universities.”

“Third, the project will increase women’s participation in leadership positions in construction by providing upskilling opportunities for women and developing online gender diversity training modules to ensure a transparent and criteria-based recruitment and/or promotion process.”

The project will provide a PhD scholarship for a woman to investigate construction trends and technologies, and will also produce 10 videos showcasing the different career paths available in construction.

Dr Wang added, “This funding makes it possible to implement a life-cycle approach to generate a sustained increase of women’s workforce participation and leadership positions in construction.”

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