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Women building on new careers

Wairarapa’s growing female construction workforce will celebrate its expansion with an inaugural get-together later this month.

A regional chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction [Nawic] was formed late last year. Previously, the nearest branch was in Wellington.

Nawic has been active in New Zealand since 1996 and represents many pockets of the industry, including quantity surveyors, project managers, suppliers, planners, designers, architects, students, engineers, tradespeople, apprentices, health and safety managers, and lawyers.

Nawic Wairarapa committee member Georgie Cox said it was important to connect with other women in the industry.

“This is a chance to meet and connect with other women in the industry. Often, we’re aware of them or have talked on the phone, but haven’t met them in person, especially with covid.

“Long-term, we hope to empower people involved in construction.”

Cox is aware of 70 Wairarapa women in the industry but said there were likely many more.

She said opportunities in the industry were growing.

“I’ve been in construction for two years, but I’ve come from a graphic design background.

“I remember when I was at school, construction wasn’t really discussed as a career we could end up in.”

Cox said women are now branching into more areas of the industry.

“It’s a diverse industry. People usually think of a tradesman on the tools. But it’s not just builders – there are women from tiling, painting, building, housing, and graphics. They all come from different pockets.”

Wairarapa women’s interest in studying trades is also growing, with females making up more than half of course enrolments.

This year’s Construction Trade Skills Level 3 certificate at Ucol Wairarapa has eight confirmed enrolments so far, and five of the accepted students are women.

Of the six students enrolled last year, only one was female.

“We’re heading towards our biggest cohort this year for construction,” director Carrie McKenzie said.

“When I saw the number of enrolments this year, I thought ‘wow this is so good’.”

She said the workplace culture in construction had improved massively.

“It’s not the male bastion it used to be. Employers are making an effort.

“Many of them have wives and daughters, and they don’t want them to experience what they have in the past.”

    The Nawic Wairarapa event will involve drinks and nibbles and an informal catch-up with other like-minded individuals in the Wairarapa construction industry at 5.30pm on Wednesday, February 22 at The Sunken Lounge, The Copthorne, Masterton.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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