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GENDER EQUALITY UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Move over boys and welcome your newest workmate on site. This latest addition to the team is a highly qualified and trained technical tradesperson and is here to make a difference and help get the job done. And that’s right, the latest recruit is a female.

Many of our biggest employers in the construction and safety industry are making huge strides into addressing the gender equality gap on site. These industries have had the ‘light bulb’ moment and are now recognising that diversifying their workforce is good business. Employers of choice are now making the most of the talent pool available and selecting the best candidates available regardless of race, religion or gender.

Education of the workforce around equality and acceptance is the key driver of promoting this change in workplace demographics. Natural competitive forces will also see companies vying for the edge through employing the most well-rounded staff.

Change is slowly but surely setting in and breaking down years of preconceived gender-based employment roles such as Dad on the factory floor and Mum working administrative duties. All these stereotypes have been engrained in generations through an education system that pushed boys into more physically demanding and technical roles while women were encouraged to pursue roles that were not as demanding physically and allowed them to focus on their role as their stereotypical homemaker.

She’s Empowered (SE) is working hard to break down these barriers and encourages students to pursue their dream career. The SE Angel Ambassadors, who have successfully carved out their own careers, are currently going from school to school and empowering students to chase down their dreams by opening doors for work experience and acting as a sounding board for any students who are looking to make the leap.

Women, generally less physically strong than their male counterparts, are being more creative and willing to use available lifting equipment in performing manual tasks. While it would seem there is an increased risk of injury for females in this department, many more injuries come from overestimating one’s physical abilities and women tend to readily accept their limitations and practice safer lifting techniques than their male counterparts.

Lifting heavy items and straining are well-identified issues within the workplace; however, other barriers may be smaller and quicker to address, such as camp accommodation being more ‘well lit’ with CCTV, alongside the need for more hygienic worksite restrooms. As confronting as it may sound, women are potentially at risk of toxic shock syndrome if they don’t have the appropriate facilities to change and dispose of sanitation.

Education, support, building awareness and installing cultural change throughout all levels of business is the only way to break down the traditional ways and to embrace the new inclusive way of thinking. Eventually, over time, these measures will see the right people from all backgrounds and genders infiltrate different roles.

Not only will it create a more diverse and accepting workforce, but this diversity will also benefit companies’ profit figures.

SE is leading the charge to generate change and open the thinking of individuals and workplace decision-makers to the power that diversity can deliver. No longer just supplying high-visibility workwear designed and fitted for women, SE has evolved to make women more comfortable and empowered at work. Our core mission is driving the She’s Empowered Movement by advocating, educating and actioning sustainable social change for equality. We are empowering females to be true to themselves.

*Kym Clark is the founder and Director of She’s Empowered. With a background as a mine site accountant, Clark is a regular volunteer at ‘Women in Mining’ events throughout Australia and an active industry panellist. She is an equality believer with a passion and dedication to creating sustainable generational change in society.

By Kym Clark, founder, She’s Empowered
Wednesday, 03 June, 2015


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