Michele du Plessis
Gender equality remains an issue in many industries, but in construction it is particularly extensive. Women in “traditional male industries” had to work twice as hard to be employed and eventually, accepted.
Liphu January and Karmany Govender, Junior Site Agents at a well-known company, believe that through training, mentorship and support, more women can be empowered to climb the construction industry ladder. “A way for businesses to flip this on its head and to change the narrative, is through the implementation of programmes that empower female employees, assisting them to grow and flourish within the mostly male-dominated industry.”
Mentors are a critical part of both professional and personal development. For women to be more empowered in the workplace, it is crucial to have structured mentorships where women can learn from each other. Research shows that 89% of those who have received mentorship go on to mentor others, which ultimately contributes to a culture of learning.
“The absence of female mentors in the industry might be a disadvantage, but there are male mentors out there who acknowledge the potential in women and provide them with the support and recognition that they need to grow. Growth will never be based on just ‘you’, and it is vital to have leaders that want the youth as well as women to grow. Their external support goes a long way,” said Liphu.
“Sometimes you need to work twice as hard, otherwise your femininity will work against you,” explained Liphu, adding: “as a woman you at times need to grow into the environment in which you work and fight for recognition.”
“Women wishing to enter into construction should not be intimidated. There may be times when it feels like women are being undermined, but never underestimate the effect and role women can play in the industry,” Karmany said.
As more and more woman are joining the construction industry, it remains a male dominated industry that does not typically have many women leaders. It’s crucial for women in the workplace to have role models in order to factor generational change.
It is vital for companies to believe in the capabilities of female employees, and support their growth and development. “I am all it takes, and because I feel like that, I know everyone sees this confidence of a female who knows that ‘she is strength’. I hope that this inspires other women in the construction industry to continue building their own strength so that they can flourish,” concluded Liphu.