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Who's your role model?

Everyone can think of at least one person they look up to, someone they trust, someone who has changed the world we live in.

Be it the mind of Albert Einstein, the entrepreneurialism of Richard Branson or the right foot of David Beckham, certain people have offered inspiration for generations to come.

In construction, we have our own role models who have left behind or continue to make a legacy – and women play an absolutely essential part in this.

This year, we’ve seen a number of females appointed into major senior roles.

Today, Skanska appointed Katy Dowding as its new executive vice-president. Earlier this month, Roma Agrawal joined Aecom as an associate director and Balfour Beatty announced that Barbara Moorhouse will sit on the non-executive board from 1 June this year.

In March, Interserve announced Debbie White as its new CEO and Amey appointed Jayne Bowie to its board as group legal director.

Together that makes up five senior appointments in two months, which although arguably a drop in the ocean, does signal that women are climbing the construction career ladder.

What exactly makes each of these women a role model? Aside from their notable personal achievements, they show the next generation of female talent that they too can succeed in an industry that is notoriously male-dominated.

Yes, the industry has come a long way over the past few decades, and yes, if you ask the vast majority of women whether they enjoy working in construction the answer will most probably be a resounding yes.

But until this is communicated effectively to wider society, young women on the cusp of their career path will continue to hold the traditional perception of construction being a men’s only club.

Putting women into senior positions won’t only make the industry more attractive to younger females. Arguably, young people have different expectations when it comes diversity – and you’ll find that most won’t want to work in an industry that lacks gender parity, a range of cultures and acceptance of different sexualities.

But the power of female role models doesn’t just lie in pulling in talent – they can pull in money, too.

In 2015, a McKinsey report revealed $28tn (approximately £21.6tn) could be added to the global economy by 2025 if full gender parity was achieved in the workplace.

It’s obvious that women can bring a lot to business – and its not hard to guess what the results could be for the industry if more women were sitting around boardroom tables.

With women accounting for approximately 12 per cent of the construction workforce, we still have a long way to go. But these senior board appointments show the industry is continuing to make progress in the right direction.

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