Challenging convention as a young woman in the construction industry
In celebration of International Women in Engineering Day 2019, I’d like to reflect upon my experience working as a graduate project manager in the construction industry and enthuse the next generation of young women to challenge conventional stereotypes.
When I first considered a career in construction, the initial reaction from family and friends was somewhat mixed. Having graduated with a degree in French and Italian, many questioned my knowledge and worried about my lack of experience. However, as soon as I donned my pink hard hat and hi vis, doubts disappeared as they realised my genuine enthusiasm for wanting to tackle a very male-dominated industry. And now – one year on – I have returned to university, swapping seminars for site meetings.
From classroom to client sign off
As a graduate project manager at Faithful+Gould, I work across a variety of sectors on different types of projects. One of my projects is the construction of a new Medical School for both the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University – an exciting opportunity for Kent’s educational profile. Studying at the University of Kent myself, it has been both bizarre and incredibly rewarding to be back on campus in a completely different capacity. Gone are the days of scribbling away in a classroom frantically trying to get my head around French grammar. Instead, I’m scribbling away in client meetings as we work as a team to deliver the project on time, to cost and to the desired quality.
I am now almost one year into my career and could not have made a better decision. I don’t get the dread on a Sunday evening for Monday morning, but rather excitement for a new day. There’s never a day the same in construction and this type of variety encourages you to think for yourself and question what can be done better. Initially, I had limited myself to thinking about jobs that ‘typically’ fit those with language skills. But then I thought, what job is typical? And why on earth do I want to be typical? I want to push boundaries, take on new challenges and make a difference to society as part of an integrated team.
The future of the industry is certainly bright, and it makes me proud to be part of a changing movement where women are doing the same jobs as men (and rightly so!). As an APM Ambassador, I can’t wait to continue to share my experience with other young women to challenge convention even further, but for now I think I’ll leave the pink hard hat at home!
If you’d like to be kept in the loop on the Kent and Medway Medical School’s progress or are interested in my day-to-day activities, please follow me on Twitter @ellie_fgould for updates.