“It’s a great time to be a woman in construction.” says Kristina Wischnowsky, Leighs General Manager People and Culture. Particularly at Leighs as we are about to embark on a Women in Construction journey that celebrates and encourages the contribution of women in order to achieve our 2025 female representation goals.
The women at Leighs, lead, support, create, innovate, and make Leighs a better and more enjoyable place to work. Here we share their wisdom, insights, and perspectives as we celebrate Women in Construction week.
Construction remains a male-dominated industry, and unless you grew up in a family of tradies, engineers, or architects it’s highly likely that if you are a woman you will not choose a career in construction. At Leighs we know representation matters, and that having female role models is incredibly influential in a women’s career choice and direction.
Emlyn Moore, North Island Health and Safety Manager, joined construction in the wake of the Christchurch Earthquakes “I wanted to help my community through a very tough time, and that passion for helping people evolved into helping contractors meet the safety requirements to work in homes with distressed and vulnerable people. I found commercial construction much more interesting and challenging than residential so pursued opportunities in this industry, and now here I am, with Leighs!”.
Anna Cassels Brown, member of the board notes, “Construction chose me! I love that it’s about building physical things for generations. Changing landscapes and lives. Creating legacies. And that it is complex and challenging and has everything from business development to people and relationships, hammers and machines, and high tech like BIM. It’s a sector that has everything.” Construction may be an industry many women accidently end up working in, but once they find out how exciting and filled with opportunity it is, they make a career of it.
At Leighs we are willing to acknowledge and overcome some of the challenges women face at work. These include low representation, sexual harassment, not being trusted to do their job well, misconceptions regarding the type of work women can do and how much they should be paid and battling the male mindset of “we always did it this way in the past”.
Anna shares how that as she rose through the ranks, she had to overcome her biggest challenge, “Until I joined the Board of Directors of Leighs, I had been the “client” for major vertical and horizontal construction programmes. My service providers (big Tier 1 construction contractors) were all led by very capable - male - construction CEOs. My biggest challenge was my own imposter syndrome. Once those very senior construction leaders helped me realise, I was bringing something unique to the table, a customer-centric perspective, plus a deep understanding of people, what motivates them, and how they find meaning in the work they do - my imposter syndrome melted away and I was able to fully occupy my space as an equal.”
With inspiring women at all levels of operations and leadership at Leighs here are some inspiring words to leave you with.
“The only limitations in your career are the ones you create. Believe in what you want and go for every opportunity that comes your way.” - Kelly Penn, Site Administrator
“Women have a key role to play at all levels of organisations like Leighs - on the tools, leading work teams, managing projects, commercials, supervising whole sites, tech, BIM, H&S, client relations, quantity surveying, executive leadership, support functions…. the whole lot.” - Anna Cassels-Brown, Board member
“There will be more women in construction and there will be more women in management and leadership roles. We have a commitment at Leighs to increase female representation at all levels of the organisation and I feel proud of the fact we now have two women on the board, one woman on our executive, one woman on the Senior Leadership Team and a whole lot of women who are about to be brought through the ranks in our Women in Construction internal development programme. “ - Kristina Wischnowsky, GM People and Culture
If you are a woman in construction, why don’t you join a team that is serious about making working in the construction industry better for everyone, including women.