Women breaking the glass ceiling in building and construction

Sharon Warburton at work.
Sharon Warburton at work.

BROOKFIELD Multiplex’s Sharon Warburton says having a female boss is on her bucket list.

The strategy and finance executive director spoke about her experiences in finance, mining and construction at a Women in Building and Construction (WiNBaC) function at the Duxton Hotel last month.

Ms Warburton, of Trigg, recalled times when clients had asked why a woman was present and said ‘why do we need to listen to a woman?’.

“During interviews, I was often asked about my dad and what he could bring to the company and I was once asked if I had a reputable man to bring to events because the clients would prefer to talk to a man,” she said.

“It instilled my hard work ethic but women do not have to work harder to be part of the team.”

Ms Warburton said a lack of self-belief and mind games were her biggest challenges working in male-dominated industries.

“In 2007 I did not go to one women’s networking event about diversity, gender equality and don’t even get me started on the gender pay gap,” she said.

“My ideal situation is where gender diversity doesn’t need to be under the spotlight as we have women and men working alongside each other in most parts of male-dominated businesses.”

After her career took her to Canada, England, Papua New Guinea and Belgium, Ms Warburton said who she knew was more important in WA than in any other place she had worked.

Now part of the team behind the construction of Perth Stadium, Ms Warburton said construction was no longer the “blokey” environment it used to be.

“I’ve had some wonderful men as mentors and without support it is a tough environment,” she said.

“We all have to work to rid unconscious bias, which means telling colleagues if they’re being inappropriate.

“Women need to take the lead to say what they’re worth.”

Ms Warburton is a director at Fortescue Metals Group, on the board of Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and founder of Steel Heels, a blog offering advice for women to overcome barriers in male-dominated industries.