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Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022

– 4 min read

We're celebrating International Women’s Day — an annual event dedicated to celebrating women across the world for their achievements. 

At Places for People, we are lucky to have thousands of talented women who each bring their own skills and personality to their role. 

This year’s theme is #BreaktheBias and at Places for People, we’ve spoken to some of our female employees who are setting the standard for women’s achievement and progression in a historically male-dominated sector.

Nilam Buchanan, Regional Managing Director

Nilam has worked in the construction sector for 32 years and while she has seen women face more challenges than their male colleagues in terms of getting ahead, she admits the industry has come a long way in recent years.

Nilam believes more now needs to be done to encourage women into construction, saying: “We need to be catching young people earlier when they are making their choices at secondary school and promoting the wide variety of opportunities that are available.

“Young women need to be able to visualise themselves carrying out construction roles since visual representation is an important way to challenge stereotypes.”

Kirstein Forrest, Senior Quantity Surveyor 

“We all know a woman – whether it’s a family member, friend or someone who inspires us – who has overcome difficulties in their life. This is a day to celebrate them and their achievements.

“Thankfully, I’ve found the challenges within the construction industry are not related to gender, but there was an instance many years ago where I felt challenged as a woman. After I reported it to my managers – who were both men – they followed it up, and I felt both supported and encouraged to report such issues. 

“It’s great that everyone can pursue a career or vocation that they feel passionate about these days. I think we should pay more attention to finding the right person for the right job, regardless of gender – there’s a role for everyone.” 

Francesca Tizzard, Regional Head of Sales and Marketing

With 25 years’ experience of the property industry behind her, Regional Head of Sales and Marketing for our South East region Francesca cites hard work, self-belief and ongoing learning as pre-requisites for advancement in this industry.

Currently studying for her RICS qualification, Francesca has this advice for women already employed in construction who wish to move up the ladder: “Start speaking with your employer to see if they can offer you an apprenticeship or other training. Talent is king right now and good companies are investing in people to keep skilled colleagues in post – make the most of that.”

Mikaela Stanley, Customer Engagement Officer 

With two little boys under six years old and a full-time job, Mikaela Stanley's hands are already full, but she is continuing to tackle challenges to study, volunteer and do what she loves. 

On top of training to become a union steward at Places for People, Mikaela is completing a law degree, which requires monthly assignments and at least 15 hours of studying per week. She also volunteers at a charity shop to help support her local community. 

“To any woman thinking about taking the next step in their career or education, just go for it. It’s never too late to pursue your dream – we can achieve anything we put our minds to.”

Mikaela Stanley, Customer Engagement Officer

Laura Fiddes, Technical Manager 

As a 17-year-old single mum, Laura made the brave decision to study at university in 1992. She graduated four years later as a Building Surveyor and went on to become a Chartered Surveyor in 2001. With 28 years' experience, Laura was one of the first women in Scotland to hold a Building Control senior management role – and would like to see more women go into the site management side of the industry.

“This is a section of the industry women haven’t really ventured into, but should”, she explains.

"It’s not that there are issues about women being accepted on construction sites, it’s just that it hasn’t really been happening until now. It will come as the world is evolving.”

Laura has since had two more children with her husband and continues to work full-time as a mum-of-three.

Niamh Dixon, Assistant Development Manager 

After starting her career in engineering, Niamh developed an interest in the need to deliver more sustainable housing and joined Places for People to do so. 

“I’ve met so many women who are challenging the idea of ‘male-dominated industries’ and they’re really leading the way – things are maybe not there yet, but they’re certainly changing.”

Niamh Dixon, Assistant Development Manager

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