Watpac Contracts Administrator, Erin O’Herlihy, was this week shortlisted for the National Association of Women in Construction 2019 International Women’s Day Research Scholarship for her proposal to develop a podcast promoting positive change in the construction industry.
The scholarship aims to promote robust ideas and practical solutions to highlight gender diversity and support and drive change for a more equitable construction industry.
In January this year NAWIC opened applications for its tenth research scholarship and Erin was encouraged to apply and pitch her idea for a podcast that would discuss and promote diversity and equality in the industry.
Erin first joined Watpac in 2008 and has worked on a wide range of projects including Channel Seven TV Studios, Central Park Sydney, and the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal Upgrade.
Following a two-year period with BESIX in Dubai working on the Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences, Erin returned to Watpac in late 2018 where she has been part of the team delivering the Casey Hospital Expansion in Victoria and EI8HT South Esplanade in South Australia.
Erin said the inspiration for a podcast came from conversations with her colleagues about the industry.
“A couple of years ago I approached some of my industry friends and colleagues and floated an idea about starting a free podcast to talk about what we talk about when we all get together,” Erin explained.
“Which is just about everything really, for example: why haven’t construction teams learned from previous projects; why do we get rebates for solar panels in one state and not in another; are green walls really that environmentally beneficial or are they just a money pit?”
In addition to this, Erin said conversation extends to experiences of women in the industry, what opportunities are available for cadets and apprentices, where people are excelling and every day topics such as parental leave, going back to university, adjusting to retirement and of course financial aspects.
Erin believes there is a gap in the market for a place where construction professionals can share their knowledge and their years of professional and personal experiences to an outside audience who may be curious about the industry.
“Year-on-year girls are graduating high school and making decisions about their future careers, yet few get the opportunity to meet female engineers or female tradesmen and they’re led to believe the industry is as it was in the 20th century, while at the same time the industry cries out for more young women to sign up,” Erin said.
“My proposal is simple; to launch a podcast that will document the status quo and monitor change as it develops, promote diversity and equality, and allow the boots-on-the-ground men and women the opportunity to speak directly to young people who are curious about construction.”
Whilst Erin didn’t walk away with the win at the NAWIC IWD Breakfast in Sydney this week, she says she was stunned by the support and enthusiasm she received and is keen to keep progressing with the aim to launch the podcast this year.
“Though I did not win the research scholarship, I spent the morning with NAWIC at the 2019 IWD Breakfast and began planning with them the next phase of this podcast which we hope to bring to the airwaves in 2019.”
Well done Erin on this achievement and for leading the way and inspiring the next generation of young women in the construction industry.