According to National data from Construction Skills Queensland, between 2015 and 2020, women in construction roles increased by 34 percent, rising from 44,583 to 59,587 in 2020. This percentage is growing with more women deciding to forego traditional work in office environments, hospitality or in the care sector.
Women still represent a fraction of the 1.2 million strong workforce in construction and other non-traditional trades and many of them find themselves in a workplace environment surrounded by men.
According to a report conducted by RMIT in 2020 on Women in Construction Trades, resilience and mentoring support are two key factors that have assisted women who are working in construction to manage the challenges found in a male-dominated worksite. Many of the challenges identified in the report centred around the established masculine culture and the treatment of women in the workplace due to gender, the perception of skills and aptitude and the barriers faced around family responsibilities and caring for children. Also revealed in many male-dominated workplaces is an existing ‘silence culture’ where inappropriate behaviour did not come with consequences and this was coupled with a lack of reporting inappropriate behaviour due to a fear of backlash when doing so.
Besides the support women can find through mentoring and their own resilience-building, how do women in non-traditional trades ensure their workplace environment is a healthy one and what exactly is a healthy workplace anyway?
According to the World Health Organisation, a healthy workplace is one where workers and managers collaborate to continually improve the health, safety and wellbeing of all workers and by doing this, sustain the productivity of the business.
The key indicators for a healthy workplace:
- Managers communicate regularly with employers on the importance of safety in the workplace, from both a physical and mental level.
- Communication on health and safety matters is encouraged both ways and employees are encouraged to speak up about health and safety issues.
- Occupational health and safety measures are in place and are regularly communicated to staff and enforced.
- There are proper reporting measures in place for all occupational, health and safety incidents.
- The workplace culture is a fair and open one where employees feel safe to speak up about incidents.
- There is a supportive team environment where all employees are treated with respect and courtesy.
Healthy workplaces benefit everyone, not just individual workers and can have a huge effect on business productivity and the bottom. While many women are now entering non-traditional trades and male-dominated workplaces, there is an opportunity to benefit both men and women, changing outdated workplace culture norms that, in the past, have helped very few.
If you are a trail-blazing woman that has entered a non-traditional trade, we’d love to hear your thoughts about workplace culture and wellbeing in the workplace – let us know about your experience in the comments section or drop us a line at email@example.com
And if you are a woman about to enter a non-traditional trade, BUSY Sisters can provide government-funded mentoring support to ensure you thrive in your new career. Contact us today on firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more at www.busysisters.com.au