According to the latest report card by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, less than 10% of women are head of business in construction; only 4.4% occupy the CEO’s chair; while, overall, women make up only one-quarter of the workforce.

The gender pay gap has increased to an eye-watering 30.6%. Women earn $7.72 for every $10 paid to men and are paid on average $25,800 less than their male counterparts.

Stockland Co-Head of the Design and NSW Gender Equity Taskforce member, Sophie Pickett-Heaps, says we should be asking why these figures have not shifted in decades.

“Within architecture, women have been graduating in approximately equal numbers for decades, and yet are still relatively scarce in the senior levels of the profession,” Pickett-Heaps says.

Pickett-Heaps is among a stellar line-up of panellists who will share their career success in construction in a thought-provoking webinar spearheaded by global design studio, GroupGSA, to mark International Women’s Day 2022.

She will be joined by Kori Todd, Goodman Head of Design and member of the Property Council of Australia; Rebecca Bangura, founder and career coach of Beautiful Disruptions; and GroupGSA Associate Urban Designer Holly Riddington.

Long hour cultures, attitudes to flexibility and part-time roles, parental leave, and inequity are just some of the barriers perpetuating bias in the built environment.

“More research is needed to understand why highly qualified women are leaving their careers usually around the years that senior promotions are made,” Todd says. “Companies need to develop policies and practices that tap into the female talent pool over the long haul.”

Todd says we must break the perception that skilled labour jobs are not ‘suitable’ for women and the tradition of a male dominated sector. “This needs to happen from a very young age – girls need to learn in primary school that construction is a job choice for girls.”

Organisations such as Parlour, Champions of Change, the National Association of Women in Construction, the Gender Equity Taskforce and the Property Council of Australia are driving awareness, leadership, commitments and reporting outcomes, leading to positive advancements for women in construction.

“We are seeing greater visibility of senior women and leaders in parts of the industry,” Pickett-Heaps says.

Increasingly, developer clients are seeking diverse consultant teams of 40/40/20 (40 per cent women, 40 percent men and 20 percent discretionary), a participation target set by the Property Council of Australia. 

“In many large organisations there is a core belief from the board down that authentic diversity and inclusion underpins business performance and operations, and this requires commitment from the board down,” Pickett-Heaps says.

A ‘diversity dividend’ exists and there is a penalty for businesses who ‘opt out’. McKinsey & Company research shows an increasing correlation between occupying the top quartile for diversity and financial outperformance.

“Companies in the bottom quartile for gender diversity are 29 percent more likely to underperform financially relative to their peers, while inclusive leaders and teams demonstrate higher levels of creativity, innovation and profit,” Pickett-Heaps says.

Meanwhile, employees in inclusive teams generally experience better job opportunities and career advancement, as well as higher employee wellbeing, she adds.

GroupGSA’s #breakthebias International Women’s Day event will be held on Tuesday 8th March at 8.30-9.30am AEDT.

Register here for the free webinar.


Date: Tuesday, 8 March, 2022

Time: 8.30am-9.30am AEDT

Price: Free

Location: Online event

Contact: Register at