Can you briefly describe what NAWIC does and how it interacts with its members?
NAWIC is a not-for-profit member-based organisation established in Australia in 1995. Our mission is to promote and improve the construction industry through the advancement of women and provide a forum for our members to expand their business and personal networks.
How long have you been working for NAWIC? Were you in another area of the construction industry beforehand and, if so, how did you make the jump?
NAWIC is a volunteer association, so all the women and men on our committees and councils volunteer their time to support our members and sponsors.
I have been involved with NAWIC for over five years.
I have been involved in the construction industry on and off for over 15 years.
What attracted you to the construction industry and what is your favourite aspect of working in it?
As the daughter of an electrician, I grew up watching my mum and dad run a small business in the domestic construction market.
During university, I started working for an employer association.
It wasn’t until I worked on a major project in the United Kingdom that I got a true appreciation for the scope and opportunities for women in the industry.
I think my favourite aspect is the variety of projects and environments you can work in.
From construction on mining and resource projects, to building some of Queensland’s major pieces of infrastructure, through to building someone’s dream home, the industry provides a wealth of opportunities for women.
Queensland has enjoyed some significant construction activity over the past decade, such as the oil and gas projects in Curtis Island and infrastructure projects such as the Legacy Way tunnel. Have you (and NAWIC) been involved in these flagship projects at all?
A lot of our members are very involved in these significant projects – whether individuals or our corporate members.
You can find members of NAWIC on most of Queensland’s biggest projects and building sites.
I personally have worked on some of these projects and it has provided me with a lot of experience and knowledge that I will take with me throughout my career.
NAWIC looks forward to some of Queensland’s next big projects, whether it be port expansions or major developments in the heart of Brisbane.
To date, what has been your favourite project or challenge to work on and why?
It is too hard to pick a favourite as each project has provided me with unique experiences and challenges.
I’ve worked on projects that are within an urban landscape, close to people’s homes and businesses, and also worked for organisations that have projects in remote areas around the world.
Each project has expanded my understanding of various construction methodologies, as well as successfully managing heritage and environmental aspects.
I think that’s the beauty of the industry – each project offers new opportunities and challenges that we can all learn from and take with us in our career.
Did you have any female role models in the industry? Who do you look up to and why?
I was lucky enough to have female and male role models who encouraged me and pushed me to grow in the industry.
Some of my female role models have been introduced later in my career and they have demonstrated to me that sometimes we may have tough roads to travel, but the main thing is to pick yourself up and keep going.
I hope that NAWIC provides women in our industry with some wonderful role models and we can provide the support they need to keep pursuing their career goals.
I think it is also important that men are strong role models for women – to encourage women and support them as they would other men.
Any man that has a sister, daughter or granddaughter should consider what kind of environment they would want them to work in and be a champion of change in creating more gender-diverse workplaces.
Do you have any advice for women just beginning their careers in the construction/engineering industries – what do you think the industry can offer women?
Don’t lose sight of who you are – you don’t need to act like a man to do good things in the construction industry.
Women bring a unique sense of balance to a workplace and we are capable of the same roles as men.
Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do a role because you’re a woman.
I encourage women to reach out to NAWIC to meet other women in the industry, and we also have a mentoring program that will put them in contact with other women and men in the industry to provide support and guidance.
The industry has opportunities all over Australia and also internationally, so there is the potential to work on so many different projects. Go for it!
Where do you see the near and long-term futures of NAWIC and, more broadly, women in construction?
NAWIC has been in Australia for 20 years and we have moved from a networking group to providing guidance and advice to businesses and industry about the role of women in the industry.
We are championing change and we want to work closely with organisations to tackle the gender pay gap and find opportunities for more gender diversity in the workplace.
That includes flexible working opportunities for men and women so that there are more opportunities to job share, allowing both to have more flexibility with family.