image of a female site manager on a construction site

Despite significant improvements in recent years, the construction industry still faces diversity issues. According to the Australian Constructors Association, women only make up 12% of the construction workforce – and this low level of female participation hinders progress in the Australian construction sector. Following the NSW government’s announcement to open funding applications to boost women in construction, the latest round of the $20.2 million Industry Innovation Program supports a range of industry-led initiatives across the state to increase the number of women working in construction, improve workplace culture, create inclusive and safe work environments, and to empower women in leadership roles. 

Gender diversity in construction is vital for reasons that go beyond just ticking the box of ‘representation’. Here are key aspects highlighting the importance of gender diversity in the construction industry: 

  • Innovation and creativity: Gender diversity brings a spectrum of perspectives and experiences, fostering a more innovative and creative work environment. Diverse teams are more likely to generate unique solutions, approaches, and ideas, ultimately driving innovation within the construction sector. 
  • Workplace culture and morale: A gender-diverse workplace contributes to a positive and inclusive culture. This inclusivity promotes a sense of belonging among employees, leading to higher morale, job satisfaction, and overall well-being. A supportive work environment is essential for attracting and retaining talent in the competitive construction industry. 
  • Talent pool utilization: Encouraging gender diversity allows the construction industry to tap into a broader talent pool. By eliminating gender-based barriers, the sector can leverage the skills, expertise, and unique strengths that individuals of all genders bring to the table, maximizing the potential of the workforce. 
  • Meeting industry demand: As the construction industry evolves, the demand for skilled professionals continues to grow. In a market facing considerable skilled labour shortages, embracing gender diversity is essential to ensuring that the industry attracts and retains a diverse range of talents, meeting the expanding needs of the sector and addressing potential skills shortages. 

In today’s construction sector, acknowledging the significant influence of diversity is vital. It’s not just about fairness; it’s a strategic necessity that can reshape the industry’s future. Diversity in construction goes beyond the basics, sparking innovation by bringing in various perspectives. This leads to better workplace dynamics, fosters innovation, and creates a more dynamic, inclusive, and forward-thinking construction industry. Technology plays a key role in closing this gap and promoting positive changes. 

The state of the industry: The pressing need for diversity in the Australian construction sector 

In 2024, the Australian construction industry still faces challenges with skilled labour shortages, worsened by a persistent lack of gender diversity. Despite the post-pandemic situation, the sector is missing out on valuable talent by not addressing gender imbalances. 

McKinsey states that highly gender-diverse companies have a 25% higher chance of achieving profitability above the average. Additionally, an MSCI report highlights that including women on a company’s board enhances productivity. 

Despite the potential benefits, companies encounter challenges in attaining gender equality. Barriers include insufficient female representation, negative role perceptions, training issues, workplace conditions, and career advancement opportunities. 

Furthermore, the industry faces issues with retaining women, who leave due to factors like lack of flexibility, limited career growth, and inadequate parental leave policies. Outdated, male-dominated workplace cultures worsen this problem. Recognizing the importance of gender diversity, particularly in leadership, is crucial not just for profits but also for enhancing employee well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Overcoming these obstacles is vital for the Australian construction sector to build a more inclusive and sustainable workforce. 

Technological progress has been key in drawing more women to the construction sector, providing new paths and innovative work methods. This has been a successful and forward-thinking response, generating fresh opportunities and promoting inclusivity in various ways. 

How increasing digitisation is bridging the labour gap 

In this section, we explore six ways in which digitalization can play a pivotal role in increasing gender diversity within the construction sector: 

1. Remote work opportunities: 

  • Digital tools facilitate remote work, offering flexibility that can attract and retain a more diverse talent pool. 
  • Remote collaboration platforms enable professionals, regardless of gender, to contribute to projects from various locations, promoting inclusivity.

2. Online training and skill development: 

  • Digital platforms provide accessible and flexible training opportunities, allowing individuals to enhance their skills remotely. 
  • Online courses and certifications break down traditional barriers, enabling women to upskill and pursue diverse roles within the construction industry.

3. Virtual mentorship programs: 

  • Digital platforms support the creation of virtual mentorship programs, connecting aspiring female professionals with experienced mentors in the construction field. 
  • Virtual mentorship transcends geographical constraints, fostering guidance and support for women seeking career growth in construction.

4. Data-driven recruitment strategies: 

  • Utilizing data analytics in recruitment processes helps identify and eliminate biases, ensuring a fair and gender-neutral hiring approach. 
  • Data-driven insights enable construction companies to identify areas where gender diversity can be improved and implement targeted strategies.

5. Digital networking platforms: 

  • Online networking platforms create opportunities for women in construction to connect, share experiences, and access industry insights. 
  • Virtual networking events and forums help build a supportive community, fostering a sense of belonging for women in a traditionally male-dominated field.  

6. AI in bias reduction: 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be employed in recruitment processes to minimize unconscious biases, ensuring fair evaluation of candidates based on skills and qualifications.

By using digitalization with these strategies, the construction sector can encourage gender diversity, remove traditional barriers, and build a more inclusive and fair industry. 

Closing the gap: The digital revolution in construction diversity 

The digital transformation in construction is changing how work is done and who does it. Technology integration creates a demand for digital skills, offering new opportunities for women in a historically male-dominated industry. 

One reason for this change is the growing use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) software, enabling teams on construction projects to collaborate and coordinate effectively. This demands skills like 3D modelling, data analysis, and programming – areas with low female representation. Additionally, the increase in smart buildings and sustainable construction practices requires expertise in Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and green technology. With more construction firms embracing new innovations and tech tools, the demand for individuals with these digital skills will rise. 

The use of technology goes beyond enabling flexible work arrangements, bringing in numerous new job opportunities. With advancements in the construction sector, there’s a growing need for digital skills in the workforce. This offers a great chance to boost gender diversity and open up new paths for female workers to build their construction careers. 

PlanRadar is a proud sponsor and software vendor of the Australian Institute of Building’s Girls in Construction program.  

Get started with digital construction management today – book a free PlanRadar product demo to find out how your business can benefit.