`There is something to suit everybody’

Rebecca Palmer of law firm Prettys

Rebecca Palmer of law firm Prettys Picture: BECKS HUDSON - Credit: Archant

A leading Suffolk lawyer in the construction industry has called for more women to get involved in the sector.

Quantity surveyor Laura Collins

Quantity surveyor Laura Collins Picture: RIDER LEVITT BUCKNELL - Credit: Archant

Rebecca Palmer, 42, who heads the construction department at Ipswich-based solicitors Prettys, has dealt with legal issues in the industry for more than 13 years.

And, ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday, she is keen to spread her message that the world of construction doesn’t always have to be a traditionally male-dominated one.

“It is very difficult to demonstrate to girls that construction is a viable option for them when they are simply unaware of the variety of opportunities open to them in this field,” she said.

“But when you scratch below the surface there are actually a whole host of engaging and rewarding careers for women in this industry.”

As a lawyer regularly meeting industry bosses, she frequently finds herself to be the only woman in the room.

“When we are talking about senior positions within construction, women are few and far between.”

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However, she does see more women involved in specific roles within surveying, architecture, project management and design. And she is passionate about construction being a rewarding area of the law.

“I chose it because it’s different to all other areas of law; the output is so positive and tangible,” she said.

“You are working together, in multi-disciplinary teams, towards the common goal of creating something physical with a broader purpose, typically contributing to the formation of a new workplace, school, home, museum, energy provider or others - the list is endless! It is something palpable and for me it has real meaning.

“I would encourage anybody, irrespective of gender, to consider construction as a career – with such a variety of roles there is something to suit every personality type and temperament, plus the benefit of a perceptible lasting legacy.”

Statistics released this month reveal that women make up only 14% of the workforce in the construction industry, with two per cent working as on site operatives.

Rebecca, a mother-of-two, urged schools to take a leading role in encouraging girls to take up careers in construction.

Rebecca has also worked alongside women who are flourishing in construction careers, including quantity surveyor Laura Collins, 30, who was recently named ‘Young Surveyor of the Year’ at the RICS Matrics Young Surveyor of the Year Awards.

With more than 13 years’ experience, Laura is currently working towards her Partner and Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS) status and is keen to encourage other women to follow in her footsteps.

“There are so many jobs and roles out there for women, but the problem is that people are simply not aware of them,” said Miss Collins.

“At school level we need to promote the wide range of opportunities that are available in the industry. How many teenagers in school today will know what a quantity surveyor is? I certainly didn’t! Hopefully this will help to address the gender imbalance in the talent pool.