Claire Fenwick talks to Women in Construction UK about her experience of setting up a business in the construction industry and whether being a woman in the industry brought her across any complications in the process or whether it helped her to excel.
‘Setting out on your own is a daunting prospect, irrespective of gender and even more so in such a male dominated industry. When I studied Land Surveying at The Survey School back in 2004, there was one other female on the course and that was quite rare. We were treated equally and given lots of advice and encouragement on how to prosper as Geomatics Surveyors, but I was unsure if being female would be a hindrance or if I could make it work, by being different.
Being one of the few women business owners in Geomatics surveying has sometimes been lonely and daunting. When I first started Spatial Dimensions, being female helped me stand out from the crowd. It’s easier for colleagues to remember me, as there are so few of us out there! I attended female led networking events and looking back, I guess subliminally, I felt more comfortable, but I soon found my confidence.
We still don’t live in a world where women are respected as equals in the workplace by some people and I have had to face issues with sexist comments or being taken seriously. Questions about my role in the company and asking what my husband does for a living, often come up! Juggling the most important role of bringing up two children, at the same time as running a business, has been the greatest challenge and has come with its sacrifices. My role has always involved irregular hours which makes managing childcare difficult. My husband has always been 100% supportive but also has a job that doesn’t have fixed hours of work. You somehow find a way round it and survive. Raising funds for high end technology and managing cash flow when payments are late, has been challenging but recruiting skilled staff has had the largest negative impact, slowing down our growth, as we have had to train new recruits internally.
Ultimately my experience of the Construction industry has been overwhelmingly positive. I go out of my way to try and encourage females into this amazing trade. I love the variety of work available in construction and being part of an industry that shapes our future and the way we live. Spatial Dimensions work with many of the UK’s top architectural practices on some truly outstanding projects. Our track record in delivering quality measured surveying services, with the client’s best interest at heart, speaks much louder than my gender.‘