Women who want to work in construction should give it a go, says DBR Assistant Project Manager Kay Rizouki on International Women's Day

Kay Rozouki

One piece of advice Kay Rozouki has for women contemplating a career in construction is: "Give it a go. You never know until you try."

With women making up just 14% of the people working in the construction industry, International Women’s Day on 8 March each year highlights the opportunities for increasing diversity in construction.

It is less uncommon these days to see women working in stone companies actually on the bankers, in the machine shops or on-site rather than in the office, but after more than 100 years of International Women’s Days they are still a small minority.

On Women’s Day this year the Women in Natural Stone Group is launching a new mentoring initiative, so that those in the industry can help those new to it develop a career in the speciality.

And to mark International Women’s Day, Kay Rizouki, Assistant Project Manager of stone and conservation specialist DBR London Ltd, talks about her experience of the industry.

Kay has a background in civil engineering, joining DBR as Assistant Project Manager at the Liberty of London restoration project. She has a BSc in Civil Engineering and an MSc in Structural Engineering & Design. Here, she answers some questions about her move into construction and the stone industry.

Q: How did you get into the construction industry?

Kate: I completed my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in civil and structural engineering and applied to work as a site engineer for a year before deciding to work as a construction manager.

What is a typical day in your job like?

I start at 8am and quickly skim through unread emails for a few minutes to make sure I am up to date. The most important part of this short task is that any operations that I need to organise for the rest of the day are sorted first thing. Then I go for a walk around site to make sure the right job tasks are being prioritised and ensuring health & safety is being practiced.

Normally my walk ends with a to-do list for my colleagues and myself. I then get on with Teams calls and on-site meetings to discuss design and delivery. Throughout the day, I will keep checking-in onsite to ensure everything runs smoothly, which involves a lot of telephone calls and WhatsApp group messages!

Towards the end of the day, site operations would have been completed and I get a good opportunity to close out my to-do list through some quiet time in the site office.

What's your favourite project among those you have worked on?

My favourite would be my current project at the Natural History Museum, which is a one-year, £10million-plus restoration and conservation project involving the replacement of roofing, glazing, flooring, M&E, and terracotta cleaning & repair works – an extremely interesting project that keeps on giving and is perfect for DBR.

Do you feel women are fairly represented in the industry? Have perceptions changed?

I believe there has been an increase in the number of women working in construction over the past 10 years and I think that events that promote 'women in construction' play a big role in this. I have witnessed this by attending events and seeing influential posts on LinkedIn, which both play a huge role in giving a more fair and accurate representation of women's achievements in construction.

How could the industry attract more women?

By practicing gender-equal opportunities in each and every construction company. By hosting and attending 'women in construction' events, which will give the company an opportunity to meet women working in the field and be able to witness their achievements.

What are your views on events like International Women's Day?

This is such an important event because as women who work in construction, we can share our experiences to enable younger females to believe that, actually, their gender should not limit their opportunities and career options.

What's the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the construction industry?

Give it a go. You never know until you try! I was a little nervous at first, but I turned out to enjoy it very much.