International Women in Engineering Day


By next year, an estimated $250 billion in public infrastructure projects will be underway nationwide across Australia. While this once in a lifetime infrastructure boom will shape our cities and regional communities for generations to come, Laing O’Rourke also hopes to use this period to accelerate its ambition to reach gender parity, employing equal numbers of men and women by 2033.

With the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) reporting the Australian construction industry as the second worst industry for female participation at just 18.1%, reaching gender parity is no mean feat.

Laing O’Rourke has for some time sought to become the employer of choice for women in the industry with a range of policies designed to attract and retain the best female talent. This includes implementing flexible work arrangements well before COVID made this common place, a parental leave policy offering 26 weeks of paid leave and regular pay reviews to ensure parity regardless of gender.

Early investment in initiatives to target and retain women has resulted in a rapid growth in the number of women choosing Laing O’Rourke at all levels of the business. There are now 36% more women in senior project roles in Australia than there were 12 months ago.

But with just 18% of students graduating from engineering at University, Laing O’Rourke recognised it needed to do more to source, grow and develop future female talent.

Now in its fourth year, the Inspiring STEM+ Programme is a targeted 2-year long development programme that seeks to engage young women in their senior school years and expose them to the potential career opportunities available. Since launching in 2017, the programme has connected more than 150 young women in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney with female project leaders across Laing O’Rourke's operations.

Jessica Breen, Senior Project Engineer and Programme Leader, says “Connecting industry with school students is so important for the future and provides the students with the mentors, inspiration, education and pathways into their future careers. The best part of the Programme is that it allows the students to be curious and creative, and opens their eyes to new career opportunities. It really is so powerful!”

Tom Lee, Director of Innovation and Technology Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, says “Laing O’Rourke harnesses the power of their experience to drive change and meaningful engagement, seeking to solve an industry-wide skills shortage. It is inspiring to watch firsthand the impact that this programme has on our students. I have no doubt that the future of construction is bright.”

Laing O’Rourke will continue to work with our clients and supply chain partners to connect more women with STEM and the rewarding potential careers. Anyone interested in finding out more about Inspiring STEM or Laing O’Rourke should contact [email protected].