To celebrate International Women’s Day, throughout March, we will be shining a spotlight on the #womenofSwaab who are leading our firm and have paved the way for the others to find their own successes. Helen Kowal opens up about how working primarily in the area of construction and strata law over the past decade has been more of a privilege rather than a challenge in the stereotypical ‘male’ industry.
What privileges or challenges do you stereotypically and generically face in your area of work?
Having worked primarily in the area of construction and strata law for the past decade, it has become abundantly clear that the construction industry is stereotypically ‘male’.
The majority of builders, developers and expert building consultants in the area are males and when facing a room of people presenting on the topic of the construction industry, I am also usually looking out to a room full of people, without a female face in sight.
However, in saying this, it has not presented me with any ‘challenges’ that I have not been able to overcome. Presenting to the sector and advising clients on a topic that is highly specialised, ever changing and presently a strong focus of the media, is a privilege. People quickly realise that if you know what you are talking about, they should listen, whether the person giving that advice is male or female. I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with many male counterparts in the industry and it is always a great opening line when presenting to a room full of males and you are the only female in sight!
It is encouraging to see so many industry sector bodies embracing ‘women’, such as the Master Builders Association ‘Women in Construction’ and the Property Council of Australia’s ‘500 women in property’ campaigns. The focus in the construction industry is to include women and expand the number of women in construction, whether it is in the trades, management, the law or other areas of the sector. This is a fantastic initiative and a sign of promising change.