It is a great pity to read about comments such as Ray O'Rourke's regarding the role of women on site; it is however a view I have heard expressed many times and from people of equal standing in the industry.

It is the individual's right to choose the industry where they wish to spend their career; when they have gained their competency and developed their capacity in their chosen field, they have the right to be afforded the same opportunities and respect whatever role they fulfil. Upskilling the workforce and prefabrication and modularisation all provide more opportunities for women to participate in the industry, not less.

My belief, however, is that this is not about the competency and capacity of the worker, but about culture and the behaviours of people in the industry. This culture extends from the top to bottom and is reflected in the way business is won, transacted and then delivered.

For an influential person such as Ray O'Rourke to give voice to such an opinion, credence is given to those who look down on women, and the culture is reinforced. Excluding women from site ultimately excludes them from the industry as a whole and, because we all expect to have the same opportunities to develop our careers, having experience on site is essential.

Heather Northey, N:management