A tunnel vision of diversity
Minister’s plan to hire more women
THE state’s first female roads minister wants to build up the number of women at the male-dominated Roads and Maritime Services.
Melinda Pavey has set an ambitious target to create a 50-50 workforce by 2025, a bold goal the minister said she would give “a redhot go”.
“We want that balance in the workforce to create the best tunnels and the best infrastructure that we can have,” Ms Pavey said. “This is a great place to work, to have a lifestyle and to raise a good family.”
Nearly one-third of the 6300 workers at the RMS are women, while only 29 per cent hold senior positions.
But, despite Ms Pavey’s tunnel vision for gender equality, she ruled out making a formal quota.
“In terms of the quota, we have to recognise that we have to respect the taxpayer first and foremost and we don’t want to be in a situation where we have a restricted quota put on us that actually limits our ability to get the job done,” she said.
NSW is experiencing an unprecedented roads boom with major projects including WestConnex and NorthConnex helping drive a jobs bonanza.
The state government is also preparing to build the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link, the F6 extension in southern Sydney and a new road network to Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek.
RMS People and Culture director Trudi Mares said the agency was also driving a new recruitment program to ensure women represented 50 per cent of road workers in regional NSW.
“A particular focus over the next year is on women in non-traditional roles and developing partnerships with vocational institutions and through our entry level talent pro- grams to bring women into these non-traditional roles,” she said.
RMS senior project manager and engineer Yvonne Bowles, who works on the Pacific Highway upgrade in northern NSW, said the female workforce would be bolstered by targeting teenage girls at high school. “You need to get in early so that they actually choose engineering as a subject and they know that it’s possible,” she said.
“I go to work for the fact we’re saving lives by building upgrades — I like the major projects.”
WestConnex project engineer Susana Jimenez, one of only five women on the team, said working on road projects bucked stereotypes. “It’s planning, it’s working in teams and it’s communication as well — women are great at that,” she said.
“It’s a career that anyone can do, male or female.”
Roads workers Yvonne Bowles, Susana Jimenez, Kirsty Booth and Monika Holdenberg with Roads Minister Melinda Pavey. Picture: Sam Ruttyn