All girls’ school students more interested in construction careers


Elizabeth Lau, 21, who works as a design engineer for construction company Lendlease in Sydney is in her fourth year of a bachelor of construction project management at UTS.

She found out about the course when she did work experience with an architect when she was in year 11 at Mercy Catholic College, an all-girls school in Chatswood.

Her job involves a range of skills and tasks including design, meeting building compliance standards and consulting with builders.

“I like having a finished project and having something tangible which I can put my name to and say I was involved in that team and that process. It is quite humbling and very fulfilling and keeps driving me to pursue this career,” Ms Lau said.

“There has been a push in our industry to reach out to all-girls high schools and promote STEM.”

Dr Carnemolla analysed 1264 main round offers to students for the bachelor of construction project management degree at UTS between 2010 and 2018. More than half of school leavers who entered the course had come from all-girl high schools.

Statewide, nine per cent of all female students go to all-girls schools.

Roles in construction include project director, construction manager, project engineer, commercial manager, design manager, architect, engineer, site manager and a range of engineering roles.

“The research indicates that the construction industry needs to reposition itself as a career for both women and men,” Dr Carnemolla said.

NSW surveyor general Narelle Underwood, 35, is the first female in that position and entered surveying after studying engineering.

“I love that every day can be different,” she said. “Whether you like working indoors, outdoors, above ground or under ground, there are career opportunities.”

Michaela Lawrence is a year 11 student at Dungog High School and hopes to be a surveyor.Credit:James Brickwood

Michaela Lawrence, 16, a year 11 student at Dungog High School, became interested in surveying after doing work experience in the field in Maitland last year. She is studying physics, geography and extension maths. She is interested in studying surveying at Newcastle University.

“I enjoy maths and I like construction and planning things,” she said.

She was among 60 female high school students taking part in surveying activities organised by the NSW Surveying Taskforce in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Wednesday to promote a greater interest in STEM.

Anna Patty is Workplace Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald. She is a former Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter. Her reports on inequity in schools funding led to the Gonski reforms and won her national awards. Her coverage of health exposed unnecessary patient deaths at Campbelltown Hospital and led to judicial and parliamentary inquiries. At The Times of London, she exposed flaws in international medical trials.

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