As part of the #BuildingEquality 2018 Campaign, Louise O’Neill, Project Manager, John Sisk & Sons Ltd, shares her story as a woman in construction.
I graduated from Trinity College in 2005 with a degree in Civil Structural and Environmental Engineering and have been working with John Sisk as an engineer since, though my interest in engineering, structures and construction date back many years prior to that. I have always been fascinated by how systems function, why a structure stands or how the constituent parts of a system will fit together.
My future career was always going to be as an engineer, however working on a renovation project through my teenage years and working on construction sites in Dublin during the summers while studying in college made me realise that I wanted to be at the coalface of the construction industry.
Working for a large contractor in the construction industry means that every day brings a new experience and every day offers a new learning opportunity. I commenced working as a site engineer and have progressed to project management roles in many various sectors including Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Residential and Recreation. I have also had the opportunity to work abroad and experience the different industry practices in mainland Europe.
I enjoy the challenges of working on large projects, collaborating with various teams and people, managing construction activities and developing my skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. I appreciate the fact that on any given day when I arrive to work, I’m not entirely sure what that day will bring or what issues I may encounter. The work can be challenging, but I delight in the sense of achievement that I feel when I pass by a project and I know I that have been a part of its creation and have contributed something positive to my surroundings.
I have been extremely fortunate in the fact that from a young age I have always been encouraged to follow the path that I felt was right for me, whether that was the road less traveled or not. It is important that being in a minority is not seen as a roadblock when choosing a career path. If you have the ability to perform in a role, then you should be given the opportunity.
Since commencing my career, I have been encouraged to challenge myself and to continue to advance and develop by taking on different roles and opportunities. I work with women every day in all aspects of the industry in my role as project manager whom I would consider both colleagues and role models. Over the past decade that I have been working, I have found it extremely encouraging to encounter more women entering the sector and more women progressing into senior management roles.
The image of the construction industry has changed considerably in recent years from what was once seen as a male orientated sector. It has become more inclusive in all aspects which is extremely encouraging, but must continue in the same upward trend. Construction must be seen as an accessible career, that offers the same opportunities and advantages as other sectors to encourage more women to follow that career path. Large employers within the sector have a crucial role in changing that image. Getting younger girls involved in construction, engineering, or technology in general involves introduction of the concept of these elements at an early stage through schools and other educational institutions. If science and technology subjects are not taught to girls in schools, they are less likely to follow these areas in their future careers. Early engagement and involvement in technology subjects is essential to bring through the future generation of female construction personnel. It’s all about opportunities and we all deserve the same ones.
To learn more about the #BuildingEquality campaign and to share your own story, please visit our dedicated #BuildingEquality page here