Dr. Shetha Al-Zubaidi will be speaking at The Big 5 Show this November. She shared with us some insight on the female workforce in the building industry. She is the CEO at Alfahim Avenue Group companies and will be talking on Key challenges faced by women in construction at the Women in Construction Seminar.
What are the main challenges faced by women in construction today?
The construction industry is typically a male dominated industry and presents a major challenge for equal opportunities for women .The number of women in construction has grown over the last decade, but we are still far outnumbered, which is a shame because there are so many opportunities for the bright intelligent female. The major barriers to women in construction are discrimination, isolation, harassment, overall lack of work, image of the industry, career knowledge, culture and working environment, family commitments, male dominated training course and recruitment practices.
Please share your experience as a woman in construction and how things changed in Dubai?
Women have contributed to the diverse fields of engineering in modern and historical times. Women are often under-represented in the fields of engineering, both in academia and in the profession of engineering. The presence and status of women in engineering has improved dramatically over the last half century. However, the progression of professional women into positions of leadership has been slow. Many women have worked hard to take gender out of the equation to simply be recognized for their skills and talents. Integrating leadership into one’s core identity is particularly challenging for women, who must establish credibility in a culture that is deeply conflicted about whether, when, and how they should exercise authority. But powerful women are scarce. Women working in construction is on the increase. 37% of new entrants into the industry that came from higher education are women, proving that this industry is quickly becoming one for the girls, not just the boys! The UAE ranked number one in the Arab world on empowerment of women for the year 2014, according to the Arab Women Foundation. In Dubai, the women have a lot of opportunities within the world of engineering, but I still think we have some way to go before both sexes are equally represented in construction leadership positions. Engineering still needs more women.
What actions do you encourage to empower women in the field?
There is clearly a pool of talented young women entering construction but keeping hold of this workforce appears to be an issue. Women seem to be dropping through the cracks of the career pipeline. Retention of our female workforce is the biggest issue. The most significant reasons why you haven’t got enough women in the senior side of the industry is the barriers they face re-entering the workplace after having children. But if the industry is to deliver the billions of essential infrastructure projects the country has lined up, it is essential to keep this workforce in place and attract them back into the industry after a career break.
What advice would you give to a young woman who is entering the industry?
There are many ways into construction, whether you're leaving school or established in your career. You could:
1. Never be disheartened to enter construction, specifically because of gender.
2. Delve deeper into your chosen field with a degree
3.Build your skills with a Traineeship
4.Get a taste for the industry with work experience
5.Achieve a qualification to help you on your journey
Who are the right people to attend your talk at The Big 5?
Leaders, Government Representatives, Decision Makers, Women in Construction fields.
How does it benefit them to know about your topic?
To learn about the challenges and obstacles I faced and how to overcome it.
About Dr. Shetha Al-Zubaidi -
Dr. Shetha Al-Zubaidi is the CEO and partner of one of Alfahim Avenue Investment Group companies called Brookson Project Management. She has international experience in UK and the Middle East for full range of development management extending over twenty five years. Leading and managing a team that coordinating all issues relating to the design, development & construction activities of major projects.From 1990 to August 2004 Dr. Shetha worked for leading consultancies in UK participating in different projects such as Capita Business Centre in Blackburn. From August 2004 to August 2007 Dr. Shetha worked for UAE leading real estate master developer, Nakheel, participating in different mega structure project such as Palm Jumeirah, Arabian Canal and Palm Deira. From August 2007 to February 2015 she worked with Al-Rajhi Group as Developments Director / Vice President in two real estate companies in UAE, Tatweer UAQ & Tameer Holding Investment. From February 2015 to June 2017 Dr Shetha worked as a Senior Vice President in Damac Properties leading international and national projects.Dr. Shetha holds BSc in Civil Engineering. MSc in Environmental Geo-technology and PhD in Civil Engineering from UK.