Figures from the Construction Industry Development Board’s quarterly report show that the construction industry is largely seen as a male dominated industry, a fact that has remained reasonably consistent over the past eight years or so, with a recorded breakdown of about 89% male and 11% female.
“We aim to clear the road and bring equal opportunities to every person who is driven to succeed in our arena,” says Desiré Paterson, assistant to the executive director of the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC).
Several female members gave their advice for other women who want to pursue a career in construction.
“Firstly, what women need to flourish in this industry is exposure to it. This should start at primary school level with career guidance classes. Years ago, women shied away from construction, but today we have female quantity surveyors, architects, designers and even female builders,” says Avril Karriem, office and human resources manager at Frost International.
Melissa Kotze, health and safety officer at Dekon Projects, agrees. “Being a respected member of this industry is not all brawn and heavy lifting – although I would say construction is better suited to people ready to be active on the job. Skills in mechanics, engineering, bricklaying, health and safety, electricity and painting, for example, are a foot in the door for anyone wanting to enter the construction industry – and don’t tell me women can’t do this. We’ve been doing this for years.”
“Unfortunately, as a woman sometimes you have to work twice as hard to be recognised and prove yourself, but never give up, no matter how hard it gets. If you put your mind to it, any industry can be yours to own,” says Faith Mabena, director of Nokhanya Services.
“It is for this reason that women need to support each other,” adds Caitlin O’Riley, evaluator, marketing and national sales support manager at Derbigum Manufacturing.
About the Master Builders Association (MBA):
The Master Builders and Allied Trades’ Association of the Western Cape is a registered trade association for employers in the building industry. Its membership comprises some 400 companies in the Western Cape, most of whom are either builders, building subcontractors, building merchants or manufacturers of building products. The Association was founded in 1891 and is the oldest organisation of its kind in South Africa. It is affiliated to the Master Builders South Africa (MBSA), but is totally autonomous.