From hard hat to evening gown – one day, of
course, when we further evolve it could become derigeur to wear both together, juxtaposing
fashion and safety in a leap, metaphorically at least, from traditional
Bonding and conversation flowed at the 2014
National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) NSW Chapter Awards for Excellence.
Unlike a previous NSW NAWIC Awards evening I went to, several years ago, where
each table had to make a memorable edifice from a variety of Lego pieces, this
event did not need any accoutrements. The celebration packed them in at the
Star Event Centre, with many large firms and corporates represented.
NSW Chapter President, Sarah Hogan, noted
that the awards program encourages leadership, risk-taking and establishing
networks. “The awards also highlight the qualities that women in our industry
need to succeed – qualities such as teamwork and tenacity, collaboration and
And many acceptance speeches made a big point
of thanking the team. I also remember hearing mention of other important
aspects of the industry such as “zero tolerance for complacency”, “strong
leadership”, "challenge of collaboration”, “procurement savings” and “making
complex design understandable”.
Winner of the prestigious Laing O'Rourke
Crystal Vision Award, Raquel Rubalcaba, Senior Project Manager at Laing
O’Rourke (purely coincidence), implemented a cutting-edge, industry-leading,
26-week paid parental leave and flexible working policy there. This includes a
keep-in-touch program, return-to-work coaching and flexible work options for all
The changes in her organisation will support the careers of women in
the construction sector, Hogan said. “The judges were impressed by Raquel’s passion
and drive to contribute to the industry in which she has been involved for 24 years.
We salute Raquel as a role model for other women in the industry.”
The awards also covered team innovation,
scholarship for future leaders, university and trade scholarships,
refurbishment and fitouts, sustainability innovation in design, businesswoman
of the year, project management and projects development.
Click here for the full list.
In similar, but not identical, vein, a joint
initiative of several engineering alumni of the University of Technology Sydney
aims to build career confidence in women studying construction, engineering and
information technology. Its name, One of the Guys, is meant to be tongue in
cheek, according to the women behind the program, which was launched in August.
While supporting the initiative NAWIC CEO Laurice Temple says she has
reservations about the name.
“The challenge of this initiative, as I see it,
will be to clearly convey the irony. Not everyone understands irony when they
read/see/hear it. The last thing we all want is for that to happen and for
someone to think they have to actually be ‘one of the guys’, which has been the
pressure many women have felt for many years in the industry.”
Judging by the NSW chapter’s awards (and a foretaste
of the ones to come in other states), the way to go surely is to be one of the gals.
Deborah Singerman is a Sydney-based journalist and editor, specialising in architecture and design, including city, community, society, economy, sustainability and culture.