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.

At school?
Changing careers or joining the industry?

The Ultimit Journey


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.


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.


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

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.


We’re proud of the progress Ultimit is making and to be recognised with these awards:

  • Winner of the Not-for-Profit Gender Diversity Award at the Women in Governance Awards 2016
  • Winner of the Inclusive Leader – Gender Champion Award (Frances Hague, Connexis Board Chair) at the Women in Governance Awards 2016
  • Highly Commended in the Empowerment Category at the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Diversity Awards 2015

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®

Lisa AlbistonProtection Technician Team Leader at ABB Limited

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school.  I was a bit of a ‘tom boy’ and played lots of sport.  I was a good student but I couldn’t see myself gainfully employed in the subjects I liked.  It wasn’t until I met a female electrician in the town I lived in, and thought what she did was really cool, that I got interested in a trade.

I told my parents I wanted to be an Electrician and Dad went out and got me a part time job with a local company pulling cables and wiring plugs.  Whilst still at school, I applied to do the ITO Taster Course.  The course gave me insight into all the trade roles I could apply for within the electricity supply industry.  I believe doing this course assisted in my application being accepted for an apprenticeship.

I am now a qualified Electrician with my Power Technician level 5 Qualification. I currently work as the Protection Technician Team Leader at ABB Limited in Hamilton.  As a Protection Technician I test, install and commission protection equipment for high voltage sub stations.  This work can involve using large test equipment to doing analysis on a laptop. We test to ensure correct operation will occur under fault conditions, and that equipment is in good operational condition. This is to ensure the safety of personal and substation equipment during unexpected conditions.  It’s interesting, practical and analytical work.

Haley AdamsonMachine Operator at Goodman Contractors Ltd

Haley is a machine operator at Goodman Contractors in Waikanae, specialising in bulk earthmoving. She has worked on projects all over the Wellington and Kapiti region, and is currently based at a subdivision in Whitby, carting and filling at the site in preparation for the roading crew.

Haley first got into the Civil Industry by working for her Dad, who has a small earthworks company. She says that the job came along at just the right time, when she was stuck in a rut and lacking direction. Work gave her something to focus on and put her on the right path.

Haley’s brother and brother in law both worked at Goodmans, and had told her good things about the company. When a job opportunity came up five years ago Haley jumped at the chance – and she hasn’t been disappointed. Her work has taken her out and about to lots of different locations, and she is constantly learning and gaining knowledge.

When asked what she enjoys most about working at Goodmans, Haley replies without hesitation, “The people. The team I work with are really neat. And the bosses are just awesome. They really value their staff and want you to succeed.”

Goodmans are very focused on upskilling their employees, and with their support Haley achieved her first ever qualification – a Level 3 National Certificate in Infrastructure Works (Bulk Earthmoving). “It was a really big achievement for me,” she says.

Haley has a young son, and admits that it’s sometimes tricky to balance work and family life – especially when you’re working long hours. But it is possible. Her advice? “Be organised, have a good routine and a strong support network. It can be challenging at times, but it’s definitely worth it.”