8 Women in Construction Statistics in Australia (Updated in 2023)
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Construction is one of the largest industries in Australia, employing about 1.26 million people. This represents 9.2% of the national workforce. And yet, it also has the lowest percentage of women’s participation. This is inconsistent with the fact that women comprise almost half of Australia’s workforce.
In this article, we explore the current numbers of women in construction in Australia and how they have evolved over the years. We also glimpse the issues that dictate women’s participation in the construction industry.
The 8 Women in Construction in Australia Statistics
- Women’s participation in the Australian building construction industry increased to 14% in 2020, up from 11% in 2019.
- In Queensland, women make up 15% of the construction industry workforce, with only 5% involved in trade and labouring roles.
- In Victoria, women represent 11.6% of the province’s construction workforce.
- The construction industry has the largest gender pay gap among all Australian industries, standing at 30.6% in 2021.
- 75% of women in the construction industry in Australia report having experienced gender-based adversity within their careers.
- 43% of women in Australia’s construction industry feel that they don’t have the same opportunities and career advancements as their male counterparts.
- The number of women construction apprenticeships in Queensland doubled between 2010–2020, growing from 431 to 821.
- 83% of women in construction believe the role of women in the industry is changing for the better.
Percentage of Women in Construction
1. Women’s participation in the Australian building construction industry increased to 14% in 2020, up from 11% in 2019.
(Master Builders Australia)
Between November 2019 and November 2020, the number of women in Australia’s construction industry grew by 21%, rising from 11% to 14%.
Among sectors within the industry, women’s participation experienced more growth (79.1%) in the civil engineering sector.
The construction services sector had the largest number of women, employing about 82,000. In the building construction sector, women comprised 18.8% of the workforce at 62,000.
While the recent increase is positive, the larger picture shows a lack of progress in women’s participation in the industry. This is owing to the fact that in 1998, women comprised 13.8% of the construction workforce.
2. In Queensland, women make up 15% of the construction industry workforce, with only 5% involved in trade and labouring roles.
In 2020, women made up 15% of Queensland’s construction workforce. However, the number of women taking part in trades such as carpentry, plumbing, and other labouring roles remained at a low 5%.
The highest percentage of women in the industry work in administrative and support roles, while trades remain preserved for men.
3. In Victoria, women represent 11.6% of the province’s construction workforce.
(Government of Victoria)
Construction has the fourth latest workforce in Victoria, employing about 309,800 people. Only 11.6% of these are women. This is significantly lower than the total female workforce in the province, which is 47.2%.
The government of Victoria has introduced a Building Equality Policy (BEP) to support training and employment opportunities for women and other underrepresented communities in the industry.
With the construction industry in the province facing both occupation and skills shortages, making the field more inclusive will help tap into the massive female workforce that remains locked out of the industry.
Barriers Women Face in the Construction Industry
4. The construction industry has the largest gender pay gap among all Australian industries, standing at 30.6% in 2021.
The 2020–2021 Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) employer census revealed that the construction industry has the largest gender pay gap in Australia.
Women in construction are paid $6.94 for every $10 made by their male counterparts. This is lower than the national average of $7.72 per $10.
The industry has also shown the least improvement in reducing the gender pay gap in the period between 2014 to 2021. While other industries in the country have reduced the gap, it has increased in construction by +2.6%. The only other industry that has not registered a reduction is the health care and social assistance field.
The above-average gender pay gap in construction is mostly because women seeking employment in the industry are often denied opportunities in high-paying roles. Instead, they are limited to low-paying jobs that are deemed feminine, usually administrative tasks.
The government and building societies recognise that tackling gender stereotyping in construction is essential in including more women in the industry.
5. 75% of women in the construction industry in Australia report having experienced gender-based adversity within their careers.
In a National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) survey, 75% of female correspondents reported facing gender-based adversity within their construction careers.
These include being the recipients of inappropriate advances at work and being expected to carry out certain tasks, such as taking notes in meetings, because they are women.
Some also reported being advised to focus on their current roles and not aspire to rise in management, indicating gender discrimination in promotion opportunities. Further, others reported having male counterparts with less skills receiving higher salaries.
6. 43% of women in Australia’s construction industry feel that they don’t have the same opportunities and career advancements as their male counterparts.
The same survey by NAWIC revealed that 43% of women don’t believe that all genders have the same opportunities and career advancement in construction. This feeling is consistent with the trend seen within the industry countrywide.
Women are not only limited to the lowest-paying administrative jobs but are also deliberately denied opportunities for promotion. Moreover, most of the women who manage to get into the trades sector of the industry are faced with constant sexism and a hostile work environment.
Growth of Women’s Participation in Construction
7. The number of women construction apprenticeships in Queensland doubled between 2010–2020, growing from 431 to 821.
While women’s participation in Queensland’s construction industry has experienced slow growth, it’s notable that the number of female construction apprenticeships has doubled in the past decade.
This is a small increase for a 10-year period, but it indicates that more women are becoming interested in construction trades. Most female construction apprentices in Queensland are training to become electricians, plant operators, and carpenters.
8. 83% of women in construction believe the role of women in the industry is changing for the better.
Women’s participation in construction may not have improved much in the past two decades, but most women in the industry believe that things are changing for the better.
There is more women’s participation compared to the past few years, and members of the NAWIC feel the industry is headed in the right direction regarding female inclusion.
Frequently Asked Questions About Women in Construction in Australia
What Jobs Do Most Women in Australia’s Construction Industry Do?
Most women in Australia’s construction industry are in administration and support roles. Only a small percentage work as tradespeople, the same as in managerial and decision-making positions. Construction firms are more likely to hire women in human resource management, customer service, and other similar roles.
Is Construction a Good Career for Women?
Yes, construction is a good career for women. Construction is one of Australia’s biggest employers and one of the highest paying. Workers make an annual average wage far above the national average. This is way more than the annual averages found in most female-dominated industries.
Women getting into construction have a better chance of earning higher than they would in most other industries. However, construction is the most male-dominated industry in the country, with women rarely getting opportunities to earn as much as their male counterparts.
Why Do Many Australian Women Avoid Working In Construction?
Many women in Australia avoid working in construction due to fear of gender-based discrimination and uncertainty over career progression.
In one study, female high school students in Australia reported not wanting a career in construction because of male domination in the field, a feeling that they would not be respected, and the fact that most female workers in construction get low-paying support roles.
They also expressed fear of being passed over for promotion in favour of men and dealing with sexism at work.
Are Women Construction Workers in Demand in Australia?
Yes, women construction workers are in demand in Australia. The Australian construction industry is one of the fastest growing in the country. Trends show that demand for construction services and workers’ retirement in the coming years will create a workforce shortage in the field.
Women comprise 47.4% of Australia’s workforce but are severely underrepresented in construction. Their entry into the industry is seen as imperative in dealing with the looming labour shortage in construction.
The growth of women’s participation in Australia’s construction workforce has stagnated for many years, but there’s more indication than ever that the situation is changing for the better. While there still exist many barriers discouraging women from joining or advancing in the industry, there are more efforts by the government and various organisations to impact change.
Featured Image Credit: Myroslava Malovana, Shutterstock