leading the charge for women in construction

The NSW Government’s Women in Construction Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program (ISLP) is piloting new targets to increase the number of women in construction, with hospital redevelopment projects playing a key role.

The Women in Construction focused ISLP initiative involves embedding dedicated project officers to work across a portfolio of government infrastructure projects throughout regional and metropolitan NSW.

The project officers support the employment, upskilling and retention of women in the construction sector, working to improve the culture within the industry and help meet the new targets of four per cent women in trades (up from two per cent) and seven per cent women in non-traditional roles.

The Sydney Children’s Hospital Stage 1 and Minderoo Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Centre (SCH1/MCCCC) is one of six Health Infrastructure projects currently trialling the new targets and implementing strategies to attract and retain more women in construction.

Principal builder for the project, John Holland Group (JHG), currently has a 37.5 per cent female representation within the project leadership team, and a significant proportion of the project team are women in non-traditional roles.

JHG Project Director, Lizzie Cox, is part of the company’s project senior leadership team and says the ISLP initiative is already making a difference on the SCH1/MCCCC site.

“Through the ISLP program, a dedicated resource has been employed on the project to support the project team and subcontractors with sourcing, employing and retaining women through a range of different initiatives that will better support women in the industry – from subcontractor forums to discuss barriers and opportunities, through to partnerships with community organisations,” said Lizzie.

The project currently boasts nine per cent women in non-traditional roles and four per cent women in trade roles, which is great progress as onsite works begin to ramp up to peak workforce and specialist trade opportunities expand).   

Learn more about John Holland Group Project Director, Lizzie Cox, and Undergraduate Site Engineer, Harriett Carroll, who shared their construction industry career stories with us.

The SCH1/MCCCC project is also participating in a pilot initiative of the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce, which aims to develop a new Culture Standard for the industry to help lift productivity and performance and address issues of excessive work hours and fatigue, poor mental health and lack of diversity among the construction workforce – benefitting both men and women across the sector.

The pilot program seeks to assess the benefits of reduced work hours, shift flexibility, and access to mental health and wellness programs, and includes leadership training on productivity, capacity and retention rates.

As part of the program, the SCH1/MCCCC project has committed to a five-day work week with standard site operating hours of Monday to Friday, and is developing flexible work initiatives to support childcare and school drop-off.

Above: JHG Project Director, Lizzie Cox (right) with Undergraduate Site Engineer, Harriett Carroll, who has joined the project at just 18 years of age while studying construction management at nearby UNSW. 
Below: Hard Work Knows No Gender campaign material featuring Lizzie Cox.

Published March 2024