By Stella Matulessya

I was delighted to receive an email from the Property Council on International Women’s Day announcing my successful nomination to be part of the 100 Women in Property programme for 2017. I first heard of this initiative in 2016 when it was first launched and I was in my first year of my professional career with Cundall. I, like most of you was thinking, it is 2016, surely women are treated equally in the workplace, especially in places such as Australia?

Having completed my engineering degree recently, I wasn’t exactly a stranger to the fact that women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industry, however, I was not aware that globally women are not paid or rewarded equally to their male colleagues, as well as proportionally less represented in senior roles. In Australia, the full-time gender pay gap is still at 16%, and for the construction industry, unfortunately it is even worse. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s Feb 2017 report shows a 22.6% pay gap. The workforce participation rate for women is 60% and for men it is 70%, however, women hold only 14% of chair positions, 23% of directorships and 15% of CEOs.

I could list of more statistics regarding this issue, but I honestly think it is not all doom and gloom. I am optimistic that within the timeline of my professional career, we will be seeing change and narrowing of the gap, thanks to so many great organisations such as the Property Council, Engineer Australia’s Women in Engineering, Robogals, National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and so much more.  These organisations have varied schemes to address the problem at various levels, from encouraging women to develop interest in the STEM and construction industries at primary school level, all the way to empowering women in advancing their careers and achieving leadership positions within their workplace.

The awareness of the issues affecting gender equality in the workplace that the Property Council brought upon me that day in 2016, was the main reason I wanted to be part of this initiative. I hope one day no one would ask me or any of my female peers How does it feel to be working as a female in a male-dominated industry? because gender will no longer be a discussion point.

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Stella Matulessya, Women in Engineering

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