International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
FDC is committed to supporting women in the construction industry as we recognise that our success depends on great people – people who are determined to succeed.
We recognise the role we play in achieving gender balance within our business and industry. That’s why we are active members of NAWIC and WIDAC industry associations and have female FDC leaders appointed to relevant industry committees in most states. We are also committed to sponsorships aimed at providing opportunity or educational scholarships to women in construction. We offer over $40,000 in annual educational funding through WIDAC’s National Education Sponsorship in VIC, NSW, QLD and SA and our Western Sydney University Women in Construction Scholarship and Cadet Program. We are also annual sponsors of the Property Council of Australia’s Diversity Award that aims to recognise and promote the positive contribution made by organisations that demonstrate a holistic and long-term commitment to diversity within the property industry.
It’s the most male-dominated industry in Australia, but FDC has a strong vision to promote the success of women in construction, not just on International Women’s Day, but every day.
“It’s empowering, being a woman in construction,” says Christiana Kilias, a third-year Fitout Cadet with FDC. The aspiring Project Manager is one of the only 12% of women working in the construction industry in Australia (according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics), and came to FDC via its scholarship program with Western Sydney University in 2019. “It’s true, there are very few women on sites, but I’ve never felt any less because of that. I’ve learnt so much working at FDC, I joke that I’m on an acceleration course,” she says. “But it’s not just the team who are great, it’s the subbies [subcontractors] too. I always feel I can ask them questions and they’ll happily take the time to help me out.”
Challenge and Growth
This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge, something that Christiana relates to. “One of the things that inspired my interest in the industry was challenging stereotypes. I feel like it shouldn’t matter where you work, what you do for work, or what your gender is; there should always be balance in the workplace, because all perspectives are important,” she says.
It’s a sentiment that FDC strongly agrees with, actively employing women across a variety of roles, from cadets through to senior management, in both operational project and office-based capacities. FDC Client Relationship Manager, Courtney Grose was recently appointed Vice President of NAWIC [National Association of Women in Construction] in South Australia, and while there’s still a long way to go, FDC has been committed to playing its part in empowering women in construction from the beginning.
Support and sponsorship
Not only is FDC an annual sponsor of the Property Council Australia’s Award for Diversity and a platinum sponsor of the Giants Netball team (championing the success of female athletes), they’re also committed to sponsorships aimed at providing opportunities and education for women in construction.
This includes NAWIC’s National Education Sponsorship in VIC, NSW, QLD and SA and Western Sydney University’s Women in Construction Scholarship and Cadet Program (which aims to inspire female students to graduate and apply for positions in construction), through which many of FDC’s female staff have found rewarding careers. Brittany Wells, a fourth-year Construction Cadet with FDC is one of those women. It was the ever-changing nature of construction that attracted her to the industry. “There are so many different things to learn, and no two days are ever the same. When you start working in construction, it can be surprising how few women there are, but I love that there are so many opportunities available to us now,” she says.
A changing landscape
National data from Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) found that Australian female construction apprentices more than doubled in the last decade. The overall number of women in construction roles increased by 34 per cent in five years, from 44,583 in 2015 to 59,587 in 2020. While it still represents only a fraction of the million-strong male workforce, it suggests that women are becoming an increasing presence on construction sites and the tide is slowly turning.
“As a woman in construction it’s easy for people to dwell on the fact that it’s a male-dominated industry. But if it’s something that interests you, jump in and have a go. If it’s what you want to do, you’ll make it work, and if you discover that it isn’t, you don’t have to have any regrets,” says Brittany. “I’ve always been made to feel really comfortable, learning everything I need to know so I always feel in control. At FDC, we all look out for each other, whether male or female. It’s like being part of a big family.”
For FDC Site Engineer, Karina Agius, (who joined as a cadet in 2019 and was promoted within 12 months), construction runs in her family. “My dad was a labourer in construction and my three brothers are all apprentice tradies. I have a civil engineering degree from the University of Wollongong and a lot of my friends are in engineering too,” she says.
“I studied civil engineering because I was interested in design and construction. Seeing a whole project transform from an idea into reality is incredible. It’s a tangible structure that serves a purpose and makes a real contribution to other people’s lives. I really look up to FDC Project Manager, Claire Jeffrey. She’s one of the only female project managers in construction that I know of in NSW. She’s definitely the sort of person I want to strive to be like. Construction may be a male-dominated industry, but I’m pleased to work with people who are such great advocates for women.”
Meet Alex Ryan, FDC Contracts Administrator
Our exceptional team includes Alex who started as a Cadet 5 years ago and has moved into a Contract Administrator role. Alex is part of the team that has recently completed the $220m Macquarie University Project, FDC’s largest project to date.
“When I first started with FDC I had never even been on a construction site before, so to be based on site full time as a young and inexperienced cadet and be the only woman on the construction site at the time, was a little daunting for me. I’m fortunate that from the very beginning of my time at FDC I’ve always felt fully supported and encouraged by the team around me, and that, along with the construction knowledge and experience I’ve gained has allowed that self-confidence to grow.”