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What made you choose the construction industry? 

I am not very familar with the industry at that time. While I was waiting for my interview inside the conference room, I saw photos of the projects that VSL did in the Philippines and in other countries and I was amazed and I thought it would be interesting to work in the construction industry.

What are the particular challenges that women have to overcome in the industry?

Construction is generally a male dominated industry. The environment itself is geared towards the more masculine gender, and women in general may be intimidated. I’m speaking from a general point of view not necessarily my VSL experience.

Women were discriminated against from the time of applicant selection, when they are often perceived too delicate to work in construction sites given the working conditions, working hours and environment. It may be due to the industry’s unreadiness to provide adequate women-friendly facilities, women-fit protective equipment and or just simply not ready yet to integrate women.   However, times have changed and the industry has become more receptive and has improved facilities and equipment to cater to women, and policies are now in place to protect women’s rights.

Women Engineers are ready to take project assignments, they have anticipated that from the time that they pursued the field of Engineering. We had women engineers at site who were able to adapt to the working conditions and performed their responsibilities well. However, some companies are reluctant to provide women the challenging roles in project sites.

Motherhood responsibilities become a concern too. Some companies, not only in this industry, would prefer men since they don’t take maternity leave, have less responsibilities at home and could focus more on their job. This has changed, and women who are also mothers are more responsible, can balance their time and multi-task. 

Men are given more opportunities of advancement. The history of colonialism in the Philippines generated the perception of women as subordinate to men, but time has transformed society’s perception.  Eventually women gained the confidence to assert their capabilities and be competitive, and today the Philippines is considered as among the most gender equal societies in the world.

How do you think this sector will evolve in terms of the employment of women? What roles will they be required to take on given how the industry will evolve over the next few years? 

Women are given more opportunities now in the industry and some have been very successful in their careers. It indicates that gender is not an obstacle in today’s progressive world.

Female leaders have an important role in eliminating the challenges by being proactive to inspire other women and to change the image of the industry that it is “for men”. There are plenty of opportunities available for women in this sector. We have women employees in HR, Finance, Design, Production, Quality, HSE, Tendering, Business Development and more. There are also skilled trades that we can offer to women. In other words, women can thrive in this industry.

We should create equal opportunities and continuously promote gender diversity, recognize the skills, talents and competencies of women and trust that they could add value to the construction industry. With this, we can attract more women and demonstrate that construction is not limited to men and that the men in construction collaborate with women.

It’s my 20th year in VSL and I am grateful that I belong to a company that is diverse, inclusive and provides women with the opportunity to grow and succeed. 

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Contact : Agnès MATRIANO
Deputy General Manager of VSL Philippines
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