Encouraging flexibility, embracing diversity and investing in attraction are three steps companies can take to increase the number of women in the construction workforce, a new report finds.

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has released a discussion paper ‘What women want in a construction career’.

The discussion paper explores the results a survey and forum undertaken by NAWIC in 2012, and reveals insights into the biggest challenges women face in securing and maintaining careers in the Australian construction industry.

“Currently, just 11.7 per cent of workers in our industry are female. This discussion paper highlights three key challenges - attraction, industry culture and retention - that we must address if we are to maximise the number of women in the construction workforce,” says NAWIC’s Chief Executive Officer, Sheryle Moon.

“Stereotypes and misperceptions about the construction industry continue to dissuade women from seeking construction careers. One of our key recommendations is for industry to invest in early attraction programs to catch young, talented women early in their careers,” Moon says.

“Another key challenge for the industry is to dismantle the cultural barriers to women’s participation - from inflexible workplaces through to lack of female role models. Organisations that encourage diversity, support mentoring programs and promote female-friendly networking opportunities will reap the benefits.

“The discussion paper also highlights the need to provide more flexible work environments. Organisations must be willing to support alternative role options and flexible career paths,” Moon explains.

The paper provides a range of recommendations that Sheryle Moon says should “act as a clarion call to our industry”.

“With commitment and dedication, we will not only expand the career opportunities available to women in the construction sector, but also enable our industry to expand its skills base, drive innovation and secure Australia’s reputation as a world leader,” Moon said.

‘What women want in a construction career’ can be downloaded from the NAWIC Website.