Building up women in construction

A career in the construction industry is not one that many young women are encouraged to dream of. On this International Women’s Day, we take a look at stories of women working for construction giant and long-time Fenton client, Probuild. These women exemplify what it means to #BeBoldForChange – they challenge stereotypes and redefine what it takes to build a career in the construction industry.

We hope stories like these inspire the next generation of women entering the workforce, because in the wise words of Marie Wilson, feminist, author and entrepreneur, “you can’t be what you can’t see”.

The women of Probuild

Emma Favretto – Design Manager in New South Wales

Emma joined Probuild in 2015 as a Design Manager, managing the architects and the construction team. In 2016 Emma won the National Association of Women in Construction Innovation in Design award for her design of floodgates on the Probuild-built $550 million Promenade Parramatta apartment development to protect the property from natural disaster.

Having always felt supported by Probuild and part of the team, Emma is learning more than she could have imagined on a day-to-day basis. She believes women bring a different set of skills to the table and to the industry and that the industry can only benefit from greater diversity.

Growing up Emma didn’t have her eye on construction, but she knew she was good at problem solving. It wasn’t until year eleven when Emma had a chance encounter with Sydney architects Glenn Murcutt and Wendy Lewin, who encouraged her to explore architecture. Emma is eager to develop her role at Probuild and wants to get as many projects under her belt as possible.

Coco Pinnis – Manager Community & Group Initiatives

Coco started at Probuild as a Project Manager in 2010 and is now the Manager of Community & Group Initiatives. Formerly spending her days on-site, her role now includes managing ProCommunity, a program that encourages employees to participate in the community and assist not-for-profit organisations, managing the graduate program and investigating various nationwide-initiatives for the group to partake in.

Coco is passionate about the construction industry, giving back to the community and employee development and engagement. She believes the construction industry is full of people who are passionate about their work.

Coco helped develop the graduate program at Probuild, which includes leadership training, a camp and a community project run by the graduates themselves. The graduates must work through a manual covering key areas of the business, over their two graduate years with the company.

Working in the construction industry means your skills must always be evolving and Coco looks forward to seeing how she can grow her career with Probuild and give back to an industry that has given her so much.

Casey Lever-Kadjakoro – Carpenter apprentice at Probuild

Casey always knew she wanted to work in construction, a passion that runs in the family. She fondly remembers passing tools and learning tricks of the trade as she built a sunroom with her great grandfather, an enthusiastic handyman.

Casey’s gender never discouraged her dreams of becoming a carpenter. Growing up she experienced sexism with her classmates, with adults repeatedly telling her she wouldn’t be able to handle the trade industry. Now as a carpenter apprentice at Probuild, she’s proving them wrong.

Probuild has given Casey the opportunity to explore different areas and skills. She feels she has learnt more than other classmates at trade school having experience with formwork, plastering, steel frames and timber work. Casey’s team at Aurora Melbourne Central is constantly encouraging her to be her best.

Casey hopes other women follow their dreams as she did. She strongly believes that if more women are encouraged to join the trade industry, it will make an already great industry even better.

Deconstructing history

While records of female construction workers date back to the 13th Century, there is still a long way to go to achieving gender equality in the industry. Under-representation of women remains at one of the highest rates and change will take time and the commitment of industry leaders.

Paving the way for women in construction

Probuild is one of Australia’s largest and most successful construction companies. Probuild values the contribution of women in construction and is an equal opportunity employer. Managing Director Simon Gray recognises the benefits of greater diversity in any workplace and wants to encourage more women to enter the construction industry. Women are employed across all teams and in all areas, and there are plans to continue increasing the number of women at Probuild.

By Philippa Settle and Sorayia Noorani