The theme of this year’s Women’s Month is ‘Working together to enhance women’s opportunities to economic empowerment’. While there has been enormous transformation across a number of industries in terms of female employment and empowerment, the construction industry is still largely male-dominated. Rob Johnson, Executive Director of the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC), says “The construction industry needs to adopt the ethos of this year’s Women’s Month theme and create more opportunities to empower women. Their integration and development needs to become a priority if we are to grow our industry and the country’s economy.”
Women employed at various MBAWC member companies share their thoughts:
Nosipho Roji (a Junior Quantity Surveyor at GVK Siya Zama) says, “Student internships are a great vehicle for females to be integrated into the construction industry.” She herself became an employee at the company following her internship.
Bridget Sass (a former MBAWC Executive Committee member and Company Secretary at the Pinelands Development Company) states, “I think the onus is on companies to make the difference. They need to identify women with potential to grow within the organisation and train them in all sections within the industry. Once fully qualified they must be rewarded fairly.”
Both Sass and Roji say that they have encountered challenges as women in the workplace. “It is difficult to work in a male-dominated environment where we are often second guessed and our ability questioned,” shares Roji.
Clarise van Niekerk (Site Quantity Surveyor at Murray and Roberts) reveals, “Most men have a tendency to trust another man more than they would a woman – even when the woman has been in the industry for longer.” She believes that women should be employed based on their ability to add value and not purely on gender or ethnicity and would like to see more women in senior positions across the industry.
Shannon-Leigh Hodgson (MBAWC Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Advisor) concurs, “It is my hope that the attitudes towards the differences between the genders will be more positively embraced and access for females at board and management level becomes common practice.”
Johnson concludes, “We need to do more to ensure that more women achieve and succeed in the industry.”
For more information, visit www.mbawc.org.za