Life has turned full circle for new National Association of Women In Construction NZ (NAWIC) president Stacey Mendonca, who was instrumental in establishing NAWIC NZ in 1996.
Ms Mendonca, chief estimator with Pacific Door Systems, says while NAWIC has achieved its original aim of supporting women and encouraging them to pursue careers in the bulding industry, there’s still a long way to go.
“More women are needed in leadership roles, and I’m delighted to be involved with the evolution of the non-profit organisation.
“Back in 1996 there were few women in the industry, and we have seen an increase in the numbers of women in construction.
“However, this is not reflected at senior levels. Now is the time for more women to step up into leadership roles within the industry,” Ms Mendonca says.
“I want to assist more women to become role models, mentors and leaders. I also want to see more women putting their hands up to speak at mainstream seminars and conferences, along with increasing the number of women on boards of directors and in governance groups.”
Being based in Wellington will enable her to build on strategic relationships with government agencies and industry partners. She sees this as a vital connection between creating policies which reflect on-the-ground realities for women in the industry.
“It’s important to ensure that the voices of our members are heard and reflected in government policies and initiatives so that these really capture what is happening at the coal face.”
Sharing stories and “walking the talk” are two methods that she believes will encourage young girls to consider a career in building.
“Our sector isn’t traditionally very good at storytelling, and I think we need to focus on this area by telling inspiring stories at schools, conferences, careers evenings and in publications and media releases.”
Normalising women in construction is a key focus area for Ms Mendonca, as she believes this will encourage young women to visualise a pathway to a career that they may not have previously considered.
Having more women sitting on boards of construction companies could help alleviate some of the current industry issues related to risk, Ms Mendonca says.
“Women have a different perspective in this type of discussion, and I believe that women have a role around the board table discussing the acceptance of risk.”
Thinking ahead to the future, she hopes to see a safer, kinder construction industry with better collaboration and sharing of risk, alongside increased diversity at a leadership level.
“I believe risk has to be more balanced. The current way, where all risk sits with contractors, is not sustainable. I would like to see an industry which reflects the diversity of New Zealand which enables better decisions to be made at board level.”