As part of the #BuildingEquality 2018 Campaign, Gráinne Egan, Senior Project Manager, John Paul Construction, shares her story as a woman in construction.
Career selection is a challenging decision that we are expected to make at a young age. Looking through a kaleidoscope of career possibilities, I struggled to whittle down the selection as I was lucky to have been brought up within a mentality of ‘the world is your oyster’.
My career choice was ultimately founded upon the knowledge I had of myself at that time, coupled with my awareness of what career options were out there. It then became a case of join the dots. I turned to my strengths, weaknesses, preferences, aversions, and ambitions to inform my decision. Mathematics and all the science subjects were my strong suit, I enjoyed being outside (a side-effect of a life on the farm) and I did not relish the prospect of a career without diversity or challenge.
I was always an avid sports person and enjoyed a competitive edge. Civil Engineering quickly became a front runner. Considering the vastness of the industry and the opportunities that any Engineering degree can bring, Civil Engineering in NUIG was secured as my first and final choice at the top of my C.A.O form.
I have been very lucky to have had top class mentors within the construction industry whom I admire and aspire to reflect in my career. The construction industry is one that involves a wide variety of daily duties such as dynamic problem solving and decision making, balancing commercial competitions with business growth as well as the complex management of people possessing an array of personalities and skills. The role models within my company have given me guidance and opportunities to develop the skills required to deal with, and enjoy the challenge that is construction. They have inspired me to try and meet the high business standards they hold that are founded upon honesty and excellence. They have also encouraged me to continue to push my own boundaries and think creatively.
I am conscious of my obligation to continue this process and I therefore strive to develop the sharpness and agility of the minds of those around me. It is an intriguing challenge and a key for success in this ever evolving, fast paced industry.
The construction industry will forever be perceived as male dominated as those involved in the physical manual labour side of the job will always be in the majority. I know many young girls however who greatly enjoy the building of lego, sand castles, tree houses and dens etc, that marvel at a bridge over a river or a roof in a cathedral and would love and be suited to being involved in building.
Working with a main Contractor, a Designer, a Client means you are immersed in what are the control centres for construction. It is in these control centres that women can positively and significantly contribute to the industry. There are a range of very interesting roles within these control centres that are gender neutral. It is an industry that is overlooked by females but can boast of having tangible reward as the fruits of your input will be visible and longstanding.
There is a need for strategic thinkers and even-tempered problem solvers that are fluent in logic and rationale and perhaps have a flair for business. There are exciting roles for a variety of people and skills in IT, finance, management, engineering, surveying etc. and they are in demand. There needs to be a greater awareness of what the industry entails and can offer young women that possess the skills, interest and potential to flourish.
Construction is not the coarse or macho industry that is perceived, there is network of highly skilled and refined professionals at the core of it. With more information and understanding when career paths are being considered, young women should be able to recognise that their strengths, preferences, and personalities would indeed be suited to a role in construction. It is a case of getting it on the menu and veering away from being bounded by the choices of ‘beef or salmon’.
To learn more about the #BuildingEquality campaign and to share your own story, please visit our dedicated #BuildingEquality page here