Recently Lucy Eng took out two of the top prizes at the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors – Infinite Value awards. Lucy, a project and cost manager at Beca in Christchurch, won the ‘Women in Construction’ as well as the ‘Professional of the Year’ award.
Lucy is the first New Zealander to win both of these prestigious prizes. Lucy described how being a woman in the male dominated industry served as a challenge, but believes the perception is changing, stating that ‘There were three women in my class when I did my quantity surveying and construction management course, and I believe that number has tripled now.’
However Lucy also points out that she thinks that ‘…no matter how many more women we have in the construction industry, there will still be some stereotyping that goes on, but at least people are beginning to see the growth and changes in the nature of the workforce.”
Recently a user of the social media site Reddit posted about her experience as a female in the construction industry, commenting that at a meeting on her first day on the job one of the first questions she received was ‘What’s a gal like you working in construction?’
The original poster, an onsite safety and compliance officer, stated that ‘It never dawned on anyone that I genuinely love the field, and I am incredibly fortunate to make a living doing something I am passionate about.’
The post concludes by saying ‘Is it worth it? Oh gosh, yes! I work with honestly, some of the most hard-working, dedicated, and loyal guys around. Once I turned their point of view on end, at least for these guys, I upended their bias. I get to watch things being built from start to finish, and I love that I work outside, moving around.’
Women have demonstrated time and time again that gender bias in the industry is unfounded, however entrenched perceptions still present significant obstacles. One particularly poignant comment made in the Reddit post was that eventually ‘… they stopped seeing the two ‘X’ chromosomes, and started seeing me as a professional, as a fellow crew member.’ There is hope that this will one day be the default position.
Photo credit – Architecture Now