A new scholarship established by the Turnbull Foundation will aim to increase the number of women in leadership roles in the built environment industry. Set up at the initiative of Lucy Turnbull AO, Chair of the Greater Sydney Commission, the Turnbull Foundation Women in Built Environment Scholarship supports professionals to undertake postgraduate study at UNSW Built Environment, and includes participation in UNSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) Women in Leadership Program.

Turnbull, who was appointed Adjunct Professor at UNSW’s Faculty of Built Environment last year and also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business of the AGSM, said the scholarship will assist talented women accelerate their career development and leadership capabilities.

Turnbull observes that women increasingly are instrumental in shaping cities through the planning, design and construction industries, but in a more behind-the-scenes role. The $95,000 scholarship will help move more women into leadership roles where their decision-making will leave a tangible impact.

Dean of UNSW Built Environment Professor Helen Lochhead observed that not enough women reached senior positions in the built environment sector because their careers tended to stall at the mid-way mark in traditional settings.

Though the UNSW sees very good admission and graduation rates for women, problems often crop up mid-career because workplace expectations don’t align with the needs of a diverse workforce.

Interestingly, for the past 30 years, women have been graduating from Australian architecture schools in equal numbers to men but only 20.6 per cent of registered architects in Australia are women. The same study also reveals that the number of registered female architects dropped dramatically after the age of 30. Conversely, women were well represented in government roles and small business where there was more flexibility.

Professor Lochhead also initiated UNSW’s annual Engaging Women in Built Environment networking event, which aims to increase women in leadership roles by 50 per cent within the next eight years.