International Women's Day - the construction industry has a role for everyone

08 March, 2018


Nicola Gemmell, Associate Project Manager for construction consultancy Pick Everard, talks about her inspiration for becoming an engineer, gives her view on opportunities for young women in the industry today as part of this year’s International Women’s Day. 

I’ve always been in male dominated working environments as I started my working life in the army. My Father was a civil engineer so, when I left the army, we set up our own business developing leisure sites which was fantastic experience.

I then relocated and joined Pick Everard five years ago after completing a series of industry accreditations.

My advice to young women who may be looking at their next step after school or college is to seriously consider apprenticeships. Learning on the job is invaluable and, for someone who wasn’t naturally academic, would have been ideal; I wish this option was more readily available for me when I was leaving school.

Often, schools don’t know how best to advise students in terms of the best route into the construction industry and university is the failsafe option – but that really isn’t the case. When I went to university I met a lot of students who were on day release, working while they studied, which put them at a huge advantage. These students were able to apply certain elements of the course to real life scenarios so the depth of their understanding was far greater and they were far more confident.

In the construction industry this is very common and is something which is supported by lots of organisations. This is something I really wish I knew at the time as I’m not particularly academic – a lot of us in the construction industry aren’t – so this would have been the perfect route for me.

In terms of being a female in a male dominated industry, I’ve never experienced any issues – I’m not saying there isn’t sexism, just like there is in many professions, but it certainly isn’t the ‘old boys’ club’ people perceive it to be.

International Women’s Day provides the perfect opportunity for women in our industry to have their voices heard and show that we work in a supportive and cohesive working environment.

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