Business

A fitting time to commend accomplishments of women in industry

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Aine McGuinness

LAST Monday marked International Women's Day around the globe - a day aimed at recognising women's rights and gender equality but equally to celebrate the achievements of women.

As a woman working in the field of construction, an industry historically targeted at and led by men, and as a woman who has spent time working internationally, I have met many bright and remarkable women who are considered leaders in the construction industry. International Women's Day is therefore a fitting time to commend the accomplishments of women in the industry.

Prior to qualifying as a solicitor and specialising in construction, my only interaction with the industry had been through my father. As a mechanical engineer who travelled the world with Powerscreen in his younger years, my father has had significant achievements in his own profession and has featured in publications documenting his experiences and capabilities. So perhaps my career has been unknowingly shaped by my father's.

I have spent all of my qualified years working as a construction solicitor in the Middle East, having trained in London. Although working in a civil jurisdiction differs in many ways from a common law jurisdiction, there are a wealth of opportunities when working internationally.

I have been fortunate to work on some of the most challenging and high value disputes in the region for prominent clients while working alongside renowned legal professionals and experts, including many leading QCs.

In my view, being a female in a predominantly male industry adds a new layer of perspective. It's evident that positive strides are being taken to include and encourage women to pursue their place in the industry, but there is work to be done to diminish the chasm.

On returning to Northern Ireland, and in particular on joining DWF, where diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of our objectives, it is refreshing to see that 60 percent of our construction & infrastructure team are female.

Women are also clearly taking a well-deserved place at the table with women like Julie Galbraith heading up the real estate and retail, food and hospitality group. She is certainly an inspiration for any young professional with a vision to lead and challenge the norm.

There is also significant recognition being made for the number of women working in many areas of the construction industry throughout Northern Ireland.

I am now a member of the Women in Construction NI network, which is facilitated by the Construction Industry Training Board NI.

The network has been up and running for several years and members are from various corners of the construction world. It is an excellent forum for like-minded women to come together and discuss the challenges, achievements, and opportunities for women in the industry.

We have come a long way globally to recognise women's rights and achievements both domestically and internationally, in the construction industry and beyond. Long may that continue.

:: Aine McGuinness (aine.mcguinness@dwf.law) is senior associate (construction & infrastructure) at DWF Belfast (www.dwf.law)

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