Women in Infrastructure

encouraging, Inspiring & supporting...

...women into trade and technical roles in the infrastructure Industry.

Ultimit: Women in Infrastructure is a Connexis initiative, supported by industry partners.

Currently, women are seriously under-represented in these roles, and we want to change that.

The Ultimit initiative promotes opportunities for a more diverse workforce, with the overall goal of ensuring a continuous supply of skilled trade and technical people.


Our Ultimit Ambassadors are women who love their jobs working in the infrastructure industry and want to see more women join them. 

These women are sharing their stories to inspire other women and help them see there is a place and rewarding career opportunities for women in the infrastructure industry.


Kickstart your Ultimit career in infrastructure

At school?
Changing careers or joining the industry?

The Ultimit Journey


10 Years of Ultimit: Women in infrastructure

The 10% milestone was achieved with 10% Connexis trainees identifying as women.


Trade Careers Project

Supporting women displaced from employment from Covid-19 and encouraging them to join the booming Construction and Infrastructure industry.

A number of support resources were developed for both employees and those considering and wanting to learn more about trade careers opportunities. To find out more visit: https://tradecareers.co/

This was a Women in Trades Collection project with BCITO, Competenz and Skills.


Girls with Hi-Vis® most successful year

Girls with Hi-Vis® most successful year with with 23 workplaces opening their doors to 539 students from 64 schools in 11 regions around NZ.

Key findings from GWHV student attendees:

Before attending GWHV event:

Q. Did you have an idea about a career in the trades or services?
A. 55% NO

After attending GWHV event:

Q. Do you feel more confident about a career in the trades or services?
A. 95% YES

Q. From your time at today’s event, do you feel more prepared with the skills you need in further education or employment?
A. 95% YES


Celebrating success

Celebrating success
  • 2019 was the biggest year for GWHV yet! 22 events with over 450 attendees.
  • Companies are actively targeting women to recruit into teams because of the positive benefits gender diversity brings to the teams and company
  • Female representaiton in the industry has been raised from 2% to 8%
    • While this is small we have to remember that while companies are recruiting more women they have not stopped recruiting men – and neither do we want them to. So the percentage increase is gradual.


Supporting other industries – Women in Trades research

Supporting other industries – Women in Trades research

Connexis was involved in the Women in Trades Research Consortium in partnership with other ITOs.

This was 3 years of research, with the findings released in 2019.  The project aimed to support getting more females into trades across industries that are traditionally male-dominated.

The research formalised understanding of barriers for females from both a trainees’ perspective and employers.  Personas were also developed to highlight what traits make for successful women in trades.

The reports and findings can be found here.


Highlighting success with the Ultimit ambassador programme

In 2018 the Ultimit: Women in Infrastructure Ambassador programme was launched.

The programme formalised agreements with female trainees and their companies to be the voice of the industry at key functions and media.


GWHV industry expansion

GWHV industry expansion

The Civil and Water industries joined the Energy sector in promoting and hosting Girls with Hi-Vis events.


Winner of multiple awards!

Winner of the Not-for-Profit Gender Diversity Award at the Women in Governance Awards
Winner of the Inclusive Leader – Gender Champion Award (Frances Hague, Connexis Board Chair) at the Women in Governance Awards


Revolution to Evolution – Girls with Hi-Vis launched

Revolution to Evolution – Girls with Hi-Vis launched

By 2015 Ultimit was no longer trying to change the perception of the Electricity industry in terms of employing females.  The industry was on-board and keen to recruit females.  The new challenge was now finding females keen to join.

As Frances Hague the Ex-chair said – the project had moved from Revolution to Evolution.

In 2015 the Ultimit brand was rebranded to be Ultimit:Women in Infrastructure.  Incorporating all the infrastructure industries serviced by Connexis, Civil, Energy, Telco and Water.

It was recognised that the women already working in the industry had been introduced by a family member or friend. So under the Ultimit umbrella a brand a new initiative was launched  – Girls with Hi-Vis®.

The concept of GWHV was to invite our customer companies to open their door for the day and have their employees invite their sisters, daughters, cousins along with school students to their workplace and get a taste for the industry.

The first Girls with Hi-Vis (GWHV) events welcomed 48 attendees at 7 GWHV events.


Highly Commended at Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Diversity Awards

Highly Commended in the Empowerment Category at the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Diversity Awards


Connexis Emerges

In 2013 the Government undertook a rationalisation of Industry Training Organisations (ITO) and ESITO merged with the Civil Construction ITO Infratrain to form Connexis.

Ultimit is given further commitment with this ITO merger.

Having a project manager the Ultimit story was formalised with more information made available to industry partners on recruiting females.



Changing perceptions – Ultimit brand launch

The Ultimit Brand was launched in 2011 at the Beehive. 

The ESITO Board committed $150,000 from reserves to undertake further research. Two cohort groups of female Electricity Supply trainees were, recruited and employed by Northpower and Electrix.  Heathrose Research were contracted to follow these females over the course of two-years.

From following the females and companies on this journey the research showed women:

  • enhanced the teams they were part of
  • brought new approaches to their roles
  • were perceived by managers as more health and safety conscious, with better attention to detail, less likely to take shortcuts and more likely to adhere to standard procedures.
  • found new techniques and tools for completing physically demanding tasks. This benefited all employees with improved techniques, reducing the risk of accidents and injury from fatigue and undertaking heavy work.

To continue work on Ultimit funding was gained through lobbying CEOs and Key people in the Electricity Supply Industry.  $350,000 was raised over three years allowing for a project manager to be employed and for the brand to gain profile and increase visibility within the industry.


Understanding perceptions – Women in Power research project

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.

Girls with Hi-Vis® is an Ultimit initiative - encouraging more women to join the industry.

Every June we invite our customer companies to open their doors for the day to give young women the opportunity to gain exposure to the infrastructure sector while at school. Female students get a hands-on experience and gain a clear understanding about what’s involved in the many and varied roles available to them in infrastructure’s Civil, Energy, Telco and Water industries.

Check out Girls with Hi-Vis®