The project, ���Moving women into forestry��� provided a valuable opportunity to meet with women in two of the seven sectors representing the forest, wood, paper and timber products industry (in sawmilling and processing and wood panel/board production and manufacturing).
During the course of the project, the women articulated what opportunities exist to encourage more women into the industry –‘why it’s a good place to be’, as well as what barriers result in their current low level of participation in the industry. The project priority was to meet with women working in the industry rather than complete a desktop analysis or a review of quantitative information.
All of the meetings were conducted in regional areas where the forestry industry is a significant employer. The interviews with the women were predominantly in production environments. Around 145 women participated in the project and 124 surveys were completed. The women were predominantly over 40 years of age (54 per cent) and long term employees (76 per cent have been working in the sector for more than seven years).
Of the women who participated in meetings or who were interviewed, they commonly expressed their:
respect for their work and the job they did
recognition of the skills they now held and the importance of theses skills to job satisfaction
importance to the community in what they do
pride in being associated with the industry
thanks for being asked to be involved in this project.
If there is a goal to retain and support more women, then industry will need a range of strategies to manage workforce development, recruitment, job opportunities, known pathways and the skill development of women. These strategies are essential in workplaces where there are community stereotypes and a minority group, in this case women. Their concerns and issues, choices and decisions are often secondary to the more dominant male employee and workplace milieu.
Best practices found in the study included workplaces where women are supported in their roles and many have participated in and accessed the skills and jobs that they wish to pursue. More commonly this was due to the women developing their own strategies and with resilience and determination, pursuing the jobs and skills in which to develop satisfaction within their workplace.
Women’s participation in the industry
The high proportion of male workers (82.9%) greatly exceeds the national average of 54%. There has been little change in the composition of the industry with the ratio of male to female workers changing less than 1% in the ten year period 1996 – 2006 (source: unpublished BRS/ABS data; ForestWorks Survey).
This initiative was funded under the National Skills Shortages Strategy on behalf of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).
Deputy CEO & National Program Manager - Policy and Advice