The residential building and construction industry is calling on more women to join its ranks as it experiences a rapid boost, with more than 7000 workers needed over the next five years to meet demand.
Less than five per cent of the trades industry is made up of women, a figure which the Housing Industry Association is currently seeking to change.
One way in which HIA is assisting that change is to launch the HIA Building Women Scholarship Program in Tasmania, with applications opening today.
It is an industry that women have not traditionally gravitated towards, and that's because we haven't marketed it to them as well as we should have, and also, for a long time there have been some cultural issues but that is changing.HIA executive director Stuart Collins
The scholarship is part of the HIA Tasmanian Leaders Program and will support women's leadership development, aimed at redressing the barriers that exist for females in the residential building and construction industry.
HIA executive director Stuart Collins said the industry wanted to highlight the achievements of women in the industry, to bring industry female mentors and leaders into the spotlight to in turn influence more women into the industry.
He said the low figure of female participation in trades is caused by a workforce traditionally dominated by men, and an industry that has excluded females based on an "old school" mentality that women are unable to participate in physically demanding work.
"If you have a look at the CBOS figures on the number of women that are registered builders in trades, it is less than five per cent of our industry. So we are basically excluding half of the population, and then complain that we don't have enough people to perform the work," Mr Collins said.
"That is something that my organisation is keen to address, to encourage more women to undertake professional development, and to get involved in changing the culture."
But Mr Collins added that the industry was already starting to see women who are experienced and very qualified to undertake the work.
"It is very male dominated, I don't think there is anyway of sugar coating it," Mr Collins said.
"It is an industry that women have not traditionally gravitated towards, and that's because we haven't marketed it to them as well as we should have, and also, for a long time there have been some cultural issues that we are starting to change.
"It is not just a matter of creating pathways within schools for females, or promoting the industry as a career of first choice, it is also about encouraging more people currently on sites to welcome that diversity."
Mr Collins said the Building Women scholarship was centrally aimed at raising the profile of women in the industry, and creating more opportunities for women participation in all areas of the industry.
"To recognise the needs of women already working in the industry, and acknowledge the contribution of women to the industry," he said.
"The more females we have entering all the different spheres of the industry, the more opportunities we have to provide leadership and mentoring."
New Trend Homes Tasmania owner Leana Mitchell is helping to lead the change, speaking out to become a role model for women in the industry.
Mrs Mitchell, a part time teacher who also manages her husband and wife business, was the 2020 HIA Business Partner of the Year.
She said she wants the construction industry to welcome females and offer equal job opportunities for men and women.
"My daughter says she wants to be a builder like her Dad, and that might change multiple times, but I want it to be a real option for her when she is ready to make that choice," Mrs Mitchell said.
"Times are changing, and we are gradually seeing more women put up their hands for this work, but I would like to help create a culture where the opportunities for men and women are equal, and help create an industry where there are just as many women as men."
Mrs Mitchell said women are welcome in all facets of the industry, from carpentry, rendering and bricklaying, to plumbing and electricity, building surveying to interior design.
"There are so many positions available in the industry at the moment, opportunity exists," she said.
"It is not just about builders on tools either. We have painters, plasterers, electrician and renderers. We also have many jobs in the administration side as well. There are so many positions linked to the industry."
Mr Collins said many women already worked in the "engine-room", administrative and management roles within building companies.
"Increasingly we are seeing a lot of women involved in the off-site services, we have a lot of Mum and Dad businesses where the women provide all the wrap around and supportive services to enable the business to run successfully," he said.
"That is pleasing, but we need to support those females already engaged in our industry, to provide pathways for them to go into senior management, directorships, and also assist those seeking career changes who might want to go into construction."
Two $6,600 scholarships available to help successful applicants complete the Tasmanian Leaders Program, aimed at leaders with a strong drive to help make Tasmania a better place.