Like everyone else starting their first job I was very nervous taking up my first full time role as a fully-fledged architect but I was fortunate to meet a lovely lady who was not only my team leader but also an incredible mentor. I learned so much from her and she set a standard that I still follow when working with new employees and interns.
Having respected mentors in a company, regardless of gender, is important for its growth, employee retention and engagement. But this becomes more critical for young women entering, or thinking of entering, the industry. They want role models they can look up to, that they can be inspired by.
There is no doubt that women in the construction industry have come a long way, challenging non-traditional roles along their career path and there are today many women pioneering a path to success through hard work, determination and commitment. These are the role models that university graduates are aspiring to.
I have worked with a number of students and the feedback I receive is one of gratitude. They are thankful that there are women before them who have created a well-trodden path making it easier for them to follow. What is also interesting is that young women find female mentors more approachable and willing to share their stories than their male counterparts and that there is more commitment and emphasis on the mentee’s personal and professional growth. Women mentors are good at bridging the gap between men and women in the work place and are better at eliminating the challenges faced by other women in the industry.
But, there is still a long way to go, we are still in the very early stages of developing more women in the industry. I believe there needs to be an increase in effective mentoring programmes at an early academic stage to facilitate women’s career development in the construction industry, and I would like to see more involvement by women in the industry with educational institutions such as site visits, networking events and presentations for students.
Within the workplace I have found sharing practical knowledge and experience has also been helpful for those just starting out. I also make a point of running regular one on one training sessions to ensure their continued development.
We have an immense wealth of prominent women in this industry who are directly and indirectly influencing the younger generation and this is evident from the increasing number of women professionals entering into this industry. We all have a responsibility to continue this drive to attract, encourage and develop women in construction, to give them the confidence to take up the challenge and to own their career progression.
By Raina Viegas, Senior Associate