We are seeing huge changes in the Construction and Development Industry. Women are changing the way this is perceived to be just a “man’s” job. We get Ceri’s opinion on the matter who is a leader for change and seeing firsthand the change in the industry.
As a woman within Construction, what would be the biggest factor we need to consider as a community when driving change within our industry?
For me the biggest factor to consider is “keep the messages positive, empowering and inspiring”. We have a tendency in the industry to only report negative statistics and bad news when it comes to gender equality in our industry. The truth is more women are entering Construction than ever before, but we need to come up with positive strategies to make sure they stay. We need to promote role models (both male and female), share stories of our amazing experiences and journeys, trials and tribulations and shine a light on the women who are already leading the way. There are still obstacles of course but that is the same in any industry and any career. Let’s provide the solutions, the inspiration and the network to make it happen!
TheTop100Women initiative is so aligned with my philosophy it’s uncanny. Here is a platform for sharing exactly the kind of positive examples that will give women who are unsure about a career in Construction the courage and desire to give it a go. For those already doing it and having doubts there is a support network of wisdom and experience to draw on and learn from.
What is one thing we can do as individuals to lead change and empower other women in our industry?
I recently gave a talk for Jacobs for International Women in Engineering Day. My key messages, Be Authentic and #Leadlikeagirl. There was a very powerful “Always” advertisement a few years ago that demonstrated how the phrase “like a girl” can be viewed negatively. The fact is we should be proud of the fact our brains are wired differently to those of our Male counterparts. There is so much science to prove that the best teams have a mix. We should embrace our femininity and not be afraid to talk about the things that interest us whether they are spa days or golf days. There should be no barriers. With this comes the confidence to speak with confidence on any subject in any arena.
Your biggest challenge in the industry and ways to overcome this?
This is a great question, and I think my answer will resonate with any woman in the industry. The biggest challenge has always been getting past the initial perception. “Young, female, blonde” and whether that marries with “executive presence”. I have learned that it’s easy to become defensive and over-compensate in the face of being immediately underestimated or not of a certain “type”. Always believe in yourself, your knowledge and your ability to lead. Be quietly confident and when the time comes, and you give your opinion, you are never underestimated again.
Your opinion on the Top100Womens initiative;
Is this congruent with supporting the change we need to walk towards? – Absolutely, this needs to be a Global initiative, what a positive, empowering and game-changing platform for women in Construction.
Commercial Director B&I EAMS at Jacobs