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Making A Difference Across Our Business | Women in Engineering Day

We want to raise awareness about the opportunities available to women in the sector, and support women already employed in trades roles.

As part of Women in Engineering Day we are profiling the brightest women across the business who share their views on their role, the myths and how we can encourage more females to take up this career path.

Ally Dawson, Quantity Surveyor

I originally studied Fine Art and Design when first leaving school and then decided I wanted to have a career in Graphic Design which I studied and graduated in. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to get a job in the design industry. I then applied for a job as a commercial assistant and was successful. From there I went back to college on a day release basis and re-trained as a QS.

When I first started out at 21 years old with no experience, there was stigma about working in this industry. The industry was very male dominated and the women that worked in the industry either worked in sales or were administrators. In my view I believe the attitude to women working in the industry is getting better but there is room for improvement. I am starting to see more women working in the industry and holding more senior roles, but the industry is still dominated by males especially at higher level.

I enjoy all parts of my role as Quantity Surveyor. I have worked on various contracts over the years and they have all had their challenges which you learn from and you can use your experiences on future contacts to make them as successful as possible.

I have faced many challenges over the years but one of my biggest challenges was when I returned from maternity leave. Communication is key in this industry and by sitting down with the team and explaining that I was now back off maternity leave they could pass any commercial issues to myself as I was the assigned QS for the contracts. I felt better for having this conversation and bringing these issues to light and with support of my team I was able to continue running my contracts without any further issues.

The only way to start encouraging women is by starting at school age. When I was at school, I was never told a woman could work in construction and when I was choosing what to do for work experience, I was given the option to either work at a school or in retail. We need to make the industry inclusive for all women and tell them they can be just as successful as men!

One of the biggest myths that I have heard in the past is that your can’t have a career as a Quantity Surveyor and also want a family. It is one or the other. I hope I am proving this myth wrong. My advice is don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t work in the industry. It can be hard work and challenging at times but by training and working hard there is no reason why a woman can’t have a successful career.

Chloe Crossland, Senior Quantity Surveyor

From leaving school I wanted pursue a career in quantity surveying. I wanted to set myself a challenge and do something totally different to everyone else at that time.

I absolutely feel that there is a stigma around women working within the property services industry although I do feel that this is something that is improving. I am a strong believer regardless of everyone’s diversities, I think we all have a part to play in being consciously inclusive of all our colleagues aiming to get the best out of people each day.

The things that I enjoy the most about my role is that no day is ever the same and that I’m constantly learning new things. Within my role I think I am faced with a wide range of challenges every day. These challenges can differ from one extreme to another, but I’ve found the best way to overcome these is by teamwork and having a conversation. I think we are all dependent on emails in our daily working lives but sometimes it’s more beneficial having a conversation either by holding a meeting or having a phone call. This way I’ve found it builds successful working relationships so when we do come across challenges, we can work together effectively and efficiently.

We can create more opportunities to get more women into the industry by getting the word out there in the likes of schools and colleges. There are millions of careers and jobs out there for everyone, but I think it’s our job to get involved and show our young people what we do and what brilliant opportunities are available and open to them in the industry.

In the future I want to progress into a senior management team role. I have been lucky enough so far in my career to have some brilliant opportunities and hopefully with the right training, knowledge, support and experience, commercial director will be within my reach one day.

I think the biggest myth about my role is that I count bricks for a living, if only! My advice to any women who are interested in getting into the industry is to GO FOR IT. There are some brilliant careers and opportunities available so get out there and grab them!

Rebecca Lock, Project Manager

I didn’t always want to be a project manager and instead had dreams to be a lawyer! However, in my current role no day is the same there are challenges and pressure, but the fast-paced environment keeps me on my toes.

I do think we have a long way to go in terms of women being taken seriously within the industry, when it comes to technical information, I probably challenged a bit more than a male counterpart but I have the knowledge and capabilities.

Getting more females into the industry for me, should be focused on upskilling within teams, developing technical knowledge so that they can progress to an engineer and that door is always open to them.

The part of my job that I love is delivering a high-quality service to our residents and client and find out ways to improve on this. As a full-time working mum of two children, like for many women it is a lot to juggle but I am very lucky to get support from my husband, line manager and the business.

Danielle Messer, Assistant Quantity Surveyor

I was always on the operational side of works, and always thought my career would follow on to a site supervisor etc; however, I kind of fell into the commercial role. Where I have previously worked, even as a planner supervisor we were always aware of the “commercial” role and the importance of ensuring the information/codes quantities etc were always correct for the point of measuring and invoicing. Once I was asked to join the commercial team it was a new challenge and I believe because I have the background of the operation side, I have a far better understanding of the workings of the job as a whole, as opposed to the end stages.

In the 19 years I have worked in this industry I have seen some improvements in terms of barriers and stereotypes; however, we are still a long way from being where I believe we should be. It is sad to say that as a women in this industry, you do feel like you are always trying to prove yourself and your ability, regrettably I think this is sadly the way we act in lots of different roles in our lives.

My role has its daily challenges, but I believe with my experience and with the support of my manager I believe 99% of the time I feel the confidence to resolve the issues. Having a supportive manager in your corner, is key to any employee having the confidence in their role, whatever the role may be. I believe having women in senior roles helps pave the way and proves that the company truly practices what they promote.

I believe every woman should believe in themselves and know that they are able to achieve anything. I also believe the most important message for ALL is to empower women, especially in more male dominant industries like the property service industry.

Alex Bonsu, Electrical Apprentice

I have always been practical with hands, I was always the one called upon to fix things, so when a friend of mine told me about the apprenticeship scheme that Morgan Sindall Property Services offer. I jumped at the chance, because I knew apprenticeships are competitive!

There is still a long way to go in kicking the misconceptions about women working in the property services and construction industry. The main challenge is changing attitudes, I have been asked on many occasions, isn’t this a man’s job and of course it isn’t!

The more we share stories such as mine and my colleagues we can slowly help to break down the misconceptions that are currently preventing women from doing roles such as mine. There are multiple disciplines within the industry, it’s about choosing the one that suits you the best and having the confidence to go for it!

Sherrylee Lyons, Resident Liaison Officer

I started my career in the property services industry four years ago, I was originally a teacher then switched careers to be a planner. I then progressed to be a resident liaison officer, a role which was made for me as I get to interact with residents on a daily basis. I never would have thought that there would be so many opportunities available to me and that’s why we need to show that that there are a wealth of opportunities available to women in this industry. My future career goal is to be a site manager and I know with the help of those around me, I will get there!