Women in Trades, Ministry for Women

A 2020 survey of the construction sector found that many women suffered from negative employer perceptions that have been barriers to finding work.

Talent & Technology

6 min read

Photography iStock

A 2020 survey of the construction sector commissioned by the Ministry for Women on women entering trades found that many women suffered from negative employer perceptions that have been barriers to finding work. Some of these perceptions were that women lacked the physical strength for trade roles and that they were not worth investing in as they would have to leave to have children.476 For women who worked in the construction sector, or wished to enter it, the most common barriers were:

  • A lack of knowledge about opportunities within the trades.
  • A lack of direct work experience which often made it difficult to enter the sector.
  • Difficulty in finding employers willing to employ women, showing that traditional views on gender roles were still prevalent.
  • The male-dominated culture of the trades, which was intimidating and reduced applications from women.
  • A lack of flexible work practices, which impacted on the ability of women to both work and undertake parental duties.
  • On-site constraints such as poor conditions and the lack of lifting equipment.
  • A lack of support for women in the trades.

Interviews with six employers by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in 2011477 found that, once employed, women were seen as important to their teams. Employers said the key benefits included:

  • Improvements in work culture, for example, better behaviour, less competition and more collaboration.
  • Competitive advantage. For example, a plumbing firm got more work as its female plumber could work in public women’s bathrooms/changing areas without the need to close these temporarily.
  • Women brought different and valuable skills to the roles. For example, it was frequently noted that they had excellent attention to detail and provided good customer service.