Women in Construction

03 March 2021

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It’s a common misconception that the construction industry, New Zealand’s fifth largest industry, is solely a male domain. Sure, men may currently make up a significant proportion of the construction workforce, but change is in the air. The sector is diversifying. Women are moving into construction.

Today more and more women are seeing the amazing opportunities the industry offers, and are joining the trades. An industry that has high growth and high demand offers a place where women can enter a workforce with a reasonable amount of job security. There is also the opportunity to do apprenticeships and earning while learning could be very beneficial to some women who have families to support.

There are great career paths, a wide variety of jobs and massive opportunities as this industry goes from strength to strength.  Simply put it is not always about being on the tools. Working with G.J.Gardner there’s a huge variety of careers that range from rolling up your sleeves and getting to work on a building site, to more managerial roles on-site or in the office. Roles equally suited to both men and women.

Our G.J. Gardner franchise network is often made up of husband and wife teams that own and operate their own G.J. business and is led by General Manager Ellie Porteous, along with her husband Grant. Ellie has been in her role for 15 years and has seen many women take charge and thrive in what’s normally considered a male dominated industry. “We’re proud of the fact that over half of our franchisees have women at decision making level. They’ve earned their spots and are there on merit.”

Women are prominent in leadership roles throughout our team, currently with 10 female franchisees. One of our female leaders is Rodney East franchisee Elaine, who has worked for 22 years as part of the larger G.J. franchise network says, “Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do something, you can do anything.”

G.J. Gardner is dedicated to gender equality and is proud to have women make up around 43% of our business, which is well above the industry standard of just 19%. We are also proud of our efforts to provide talented individuals in our business with opportunities to grow through courses such as Outward Bound, our Leadership Development programmes, and our Apprenticeship scheme.

One team member who has partaken in these programmes is Shalimar Sudfelt, who now owns the Whangarei franchise with husband Michael. Shalimar worked with our head office in a receptionist/administrative capacity, yet was eager to participate in training which saw her enter our Leadership Development Program.  She then took the opportunity to become a franchisee in Kapiti before on selling that franchise and moving to Whangarei.

Nicola Marii is another female success story, having not come from a construction background or having any previous experience. Nicola has worked her way up to become a construction supervisor in less than three years with G.J. Gardner’s help and guidance as well as their training programmes like the Leadership Development Programme.

Currently demand is booming, and the ways to become part of this exciting team are growing too. What’s more G.J.Gardner have been supplying the tools needed for women to become successful for over 20 years, with many positive women already in our industry.

So as women look for a career to take them places many are turning to the company that’s building places.

Our 2017 video showcases some of the fantastic women we have within our business and the successful careers that they have. We want to use their stories to inspire other women to consider a career in construction and possibly think of doing an apprenticeship with us or to join our business in another way. They are role models, we need to inspire the “if she can do it, I can do it” mentality by flipping woman in construction from an anomaly to normality.