The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) redevelopment project team celebrated the accomplishments of women across the project and further afield to mark International Women’s Day.

In a significant stride forward for the construction industry, the CHW project team is proud to see strong representation of women across the project and to have already exceeded the industry’s female workforce participation target for 2030, which aims to have 15 percent of women in construction.

Women lead various roles throughout the project – from estimators and project managers, to on-site trades such as labourers and traffic controllers.

In recognition of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Inspire Inclusion’, members of the project team joined together to reflect on the importance of inclusivity and gender diversity in the workplace, drawing from some of their own career experiences.

Project Director Anna Chernih said her desire to follow her father's footsteps was her motivation for entering the industry. While her near two-decade-long experience has been largely positive, she did face some initial hurdles.

“The challenges have evolved over the years. The biggest challenges I faced starting in the industry were workplace culture and sexism.”

“I've been incredibly fortunate to receive support from remarkable individuals and to work in an environment that actively promotes diversity and inclusion, enabling me to stay in the industry.”

Larnie Phipps, Refurbishment and Disruption Manager, who has been involved in the redevelopment since 2016, said being in the health construction space was highly rewarding.

“The visible milestones and accomplishments that come with redevelopment and construction are satisfying, rewarding and exciting.”

“This includes managing the balance between the needs of the hospital and the requirements for the project and advocating for our patients and staff while ensuring we progress with the redevelopment projects.”

Sharing the same sentiment, Melissa Jones, Project Manager, said her main motivation for joining was wanting to leave behind a positive legacy.

“I wanted to challenge the stereotype by entering the male-dominated construction industry and have a job where I could drive down the street and see what my hard work has created.”

Ms Jones and Ms Chernih emphasised the importance for women considering entering the industry to seek guidance from experienced individuals and draw upon their insights to navigate challenges and to succeed.

To add to this, Ms Phipps said that women should not be afraid to pursue their passions in the construction industry.

“Health construction is a way to step out of your comfort zone while still advocating for the people and services that are crucial to paediatric and adult healthcare,” Ms Phipps said.

“There may be times where you’re the only female in the room, but that doesn’t mean you don’t belong if it’s where you want to be.”

It was widely acknowledged that creating inclusive workplace cultures, providing training, and supporting flexible working arrangements, including the 5-day working week would help attract, retain, and empower women in the construction industry.

Sandy Wannous, who is a cadet engineer on the project, said researching and finding a workplace as part of her journey was crucial.

"To quote Drake, we ‘started from the bottom now we’re here’. You have to start somewhere and work your way up. I learned that doing your own research is necessary, research what projects you are interested in, what companies provide entry level, and equal opportunities for men and women, and whether business provides the education, training and support you need to succeed,” Ms Wannous said.

“While there is a lot of work to be done in the background to get into construction as a female, it's a great opportunity and it really isn't as intimidating as it seems!".

The project remains steadfast on promoting diversity, innovation, and leadership through training and education opportunities. In line with this commitment, a dedicated role has been established on site to spearhead initiatives aimed at boosting opportunities for women on site.