Women in Construction roles across New Zealand have made significant strides in recent years, challenging traditional gender norms within the industry. With a growing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusivity, there has been a concerted effort to encourage and support women pursuing careers in construction.
BCITO Te Pukenga currently has 72 female apprentices training across the Bay of Plenty region which is just 6.25% of the total apprenticeships*. While the percentage of women in construction is still lower compared to some other industries, there is a palpable shift towards greater gender equality, with women excelling in roles ranging from project management to skilled trades.
We talked with Abbey Mills who is currently doing her apprenticeship here with us at Calley Homes about her why, and her experiences so far.
What made you decide on building as a career?
I decided to make building a career because when I was at school I really enjoyed building class and by the end of year 12 that was the only subject I was interested in. I also knew that Uni wasn't for me and one of the main reasons I decided to do it was by the end of my apprenticeship I wouldn't have a student loan hanging over my head and that I can take this career around the world because I have always been interested in traveling one day.
Have you always been quite practical and “handy”?
I would say I have always been practical and handy growing up I was a very active person and I have always found it hard to sit still. Growing up I was always outside doing something.
What do you love most about being on the tools?
The thing I love most about being on the tools is that it is never a dull moment and you are always doing something different which I really enjoy, it can be hard work sometimes but once you have finished the task and you stand back and look at what you have done you feel like you have accomplished something and it is a good feeling. It’s also cool to think that you helped create someones dream home.
What is it really like working in an industry that is typically male dominated?
Working in a male dominated industry hasn't really been a problem for me because growing up I spent at lot of time with my dad doing fire wood with him, watching him cut down trees on logging sites and fishing with him and his mates. So working with males seems like second nature.
What advice would you offer to other women considering the career move?
The advice I would give to other females is you need to be open minded, willing to learn and to just be yourself. You need to be able to have tough skin and be-able to take banter but also give it back.
Also don't wait for the right time because there is never a right time but know if you are wanting to do it, just get in there and give it your all and the hard work will pay off.
Your most memorable lesson so far?
To try your best and if you don't know how to do something ask for help.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
The thing I am most looking forward to is hopefully one day building my own house
*Its important to note that BCITO Te Pukenga doesn’t cover all Building Industry apprenticeships.
The number of female apprentices in the BOP Area is 72. This Area covers Tauranga to Gisborne and up the Coast to Coromandel.