Understanding perceptions – Women in Power research project

Conor Seed

Ultimit: Women in Infrastructure began as a research project called “Women in Power” – led by Chair Frances Hague of the then ESITO Board.

It was recognised that the industry was missing out on an opportunity during a time of significant skills shortage, and when the industry was constantly on the Immigration New Zealand Skilled Shortage list.  While women made up 50% of our population they were significantly underrepresented in trade and technical roles within the Electricity sector, making up only 2% of the workforce.

The research set out to better understand the attitudes and perceptions of operational people in the sector in terms of employing females.  The Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MWA) partnered with ESITO on the ‘Women in Power” project.

The results highlighted the entrenched views, that this was not an industry for women. It was clear where the focus needed to be; on changing the minds and perceptions of those making the decisions. A significant change was required in recruitment and workplace practices and culture.