International Women’s Day has given us a chance to reflect on the importance of increasing female participation in the workforce. 

Almost everyone agrees equity in employment is the right thing to do, but there is unequivocal evidence that it is also the smart thing to do. 

In committing to the HESTA 40:40 Vision, Ventia faces more challenges than many companies in that we specialise in many traditionally male-dominated industries. 

This makes it harder – but at the same time more worthwhile – to recruit females to these industries. And the benefits might surprise. 

Jess Kindred, Maintenance planner at Puckapunyal Military Area

One of our most male-heavy businesses, Defence Maintenance Support Services (DMSS), is benefitting from a conscious program to attract and recruit women, including to management roles. 

Maintaining valuable military hardware, ranging from the 60-tonne M1 Abrams main battle tank to every soldier’s rifle, is an intense and exacting role.  

Traditionally viewed as the preserve of men, DMSS is expecting to benefit from an influx of women in traditionally male roles like mechanics, forklift drivers, welders, and armourers.

Marcela Bankowski – Production Clerk at Moorebank

General Manager Defence Support Services Antonella Banno, says with a target of 20% female employment in the next iteration of the contract, both the challenge and the benefits are clear.  

“The obvious benefits of employing more women – reflecting social makeup, bringing new perspectives, and being stronger through diversity – apply in our business,” Antonella said. 

But, if anything, our workshops benefit more than your average workplace; in traditionally ‘blokey’ environments, having more women reduces workplace tension and improves productivity.

Antonella says she’s consciously trying to eliminate gender bias as they recruit for logistical roles as well. 

Mashnun Islam, Production Clerk, Moorebank

“For example, production clerk roles were previously filled by males because of a misconception that you needed technical trade skills,” she said. 

“But that’s not the case at all. You need a solid understanding of the processes involved and great analytical skills.

We find that women, whether or not they have a trade qualification, bring not only a fresh perspective but a better focus on the analytics.

Antonella says that despite the challenges, 8 of 23 new positions have been filled by women so far this year, although they are primarily in more white-collar roles, she expects the program will continue to snowball.

Annika Sutherland at Puckapunyal Military Area

“As we get better at recruiting women into these roles and word spreads about the opportunities available to women in these professions and trades, we anticipate a solid upswing in the gender balance,” she said. 

Antonella has a strong logistics background, having spent her early career with Shell and United Petroleum, followed by a role as General Manager Automatic Technology at Dulux. She then built her skills in growth, transformation and strategic development in the role of Chief Operating Officer at Nutrano, one of Australia's leading produce companies.  

Interested in working at Ventia? View our available roles here.


Pictured at top: Tracey Burge, Trades Assistant