A research proposal that aims to analyse perceptions of schoolgirls on careers in the construction industry has been awarded the 2018 National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) International Women’s Day Scholarship. The scholarship helps fund a research paper that will benefit and empower women in the Australian construction industry.

The scholarship, funded by design furniture, lighting and accessory company, CULT and valued at $20,000, was awarded to Dr Phillippa Carnemolla, an industrial designer, researcher and design educator.

She was chosen from the 19 applications received by NAWIC this year, with her proposal standing out from the rest.

A postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney, Carnemolla will analyse high school girls’ perceptions of careers in the construction industry and trade.

Observing that NAWIC is committed to building a diverse and dynamic construction workforce in which women can fully participate, NAWIC’s National Chair, Helen Badger said Phillippa’s research will help them advance this mission.

Last year’s scholarship winner, Sara Prendergast, finance manager with Downer wrote a research paper on attraction strategies to entice women into traditionally male-dominated operational roles within the construction industry.

According to Prendergast, Downer recognises that diverse perspectives and representations drive innovation and financial performance and create a more engaged and productive workforce. She says companies need to “cast the labour net wide” to attract female employees, be clearer on role requirements, and ensure external talent and labour hire agencies, as well as internal talent sourcing departments, have key performance criteria attached to gender diversity.

She added that the $20,000 scholarship gave her the time and support to undertake this important research.

Munao concludes that the research undertaken through the NAWIC International Women’s Day scholarship program over the past decade has had a measurable impact on women’s leadership opportunities in the construction industry.