Women in the Building Industry

23 May 2022

It’s probably no surprise that in Australia, construction continues to be one of the most male-dominated major industries.

But as Bob Dylan sang, way back in 1964, “The times they are a-changin.”

For women like Porter Davis Homes Site Supervisor Tanya Robertson, the choice to enter the construction industry has opened many doors.

Tanya’s future career choice didn’t follow a straight path. She’d begun a building construction degree after leaving school, a stint in retail management, then followed 10 years as a stay-at-home Mum.

Things changed when she and her husband moved to Melbourne’s booming western suburbs a few years ago and they decided to build their own home.

Tanya says, “I was very cheeky and asked for a job in a local display home when we attended our tender appointment at the head office. I was fortunate enough to have perfect timing for the application and got the job, I then went on to work at another builder for a few years in pre-site and onsite administration.”

Now she’s worked her way to becoming a Site Supervisor with Porter Davis. And it’s her dream job.

For Tanya, updating and communicating with new homeowners is a favourite part of her day.

She says, “Building a new home is so exciting but also it can be stressful, so I love to keep them up to date and excited about each stage of the build. On an average day, I hop from site to site to make sure everything is ticking along and troubleshoot anything that may pop up along the way. It’s important to be prompt and proactive so being available for any questions anyone may have is crucial.”

“It can be a bit of a roller coaster. Not all the work is on the phone/computer either. You may find me with a caulking gun in my hand doing window rubbers, sweeping out a house to make sure the site is neat and tidy, on the end of a drill putting in missing screws on hinges or getting muddy reinstating fallen temp fencing. It’s really a bit of everything.”

More than anything, Tanya is proud of her work as a woman in construction with Porter Davis.

Owners that are stoked at handover, of course, give me the ultimate thrill. But also, knowing that I have delivered a high-quality home that they can be proud of. I’m enjoying that no two days have been the same, different challenges pop up all the time, and you are always learning something new,” she says.

And she says she’s been pleasantly surprised by the attitude of men regarding a woman on the worksite, certainly at Porter Davis. “I have to admit that it hasn’t really been a hindrance being female. If anything, it’s been to my advantage. People don’t assume I know everything, so take the time to explain things well.”

And what’s her advice to upcoming women wanting a career in construction: “Being on-site is about being organised and a good communicator, I think that generally sums up a lot of women out there in general. We juggle careers, families and households, the ultimate multi-taskers.”

According to Tanya, there’s one final bonus being a Site Supervisor at Porter Davis.

“Because I am on the road, I can rock out in my car and not offend anyone in an office (or my kids when I was working at home) with my singing!”