The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene
The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene

Oyindamola Animashaun

Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods
Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods

Sarah Gill

5 foolproof summer ‘fits
5 foolproof summer ‘fits

Sarah Finnan

The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about
The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about

Sarah Gill

Up your fitness game with our IMAGE Active event series
Up your fitness game with our IMAGE Active event series

IMAGE

This dreamy garden room extension in Santry is a gardener’s delight
This dreamy garden room extension in Santry is a gardener’s delight

Amanda Kavanagh

Inside this bright Gorey home on the market for €450,000 
Inside this bright Gorey home on the market for €450,000 

Sarah Finnan

WIN a trip for two to the South of France
WIN a trip for two to the South of France

IMAGE

6 Irish stylists on their summer wardrobe wishlists
6 Irish stylists on their summer wardrobe wishlists

Holly O'Neill

Ask the Doctor: ‘How soon after a double mastectomy could I have reconstructive surgery?’
Ask the Doctor: ‘How soon after a double mastectomy could I have reconstructive surgery?’

Sarah Gill

Site Forewoman Sheena Dowdall: ‘The construction industry needs more girl power’
Sponsored

Site Forewoman Sheena Dowdall: ‘The construction industry needs more girl power’

Sponsored By

by IMAGE
03rd Jul 2024
Sponsored By

Here, we speak with one of the very few site forewomen in Ireland, Sheena Dowdall, about life on the construction site, some misconceptions about the industry, and how we can work towards greater gender equality…

“I won’t be taken seriously in my role because I’m a woman.”

How familiar that sentence is to so many of us, regardless of the industry we find ourselves working within. This, Sheena Dowdall tells us, is one of the most common misconceptions about her role as Site Forewoman at Glenveagh she has come across since making her start in the construction industry.

Glenveagh

“I suppose it’s a good thing I’m both stubborn and I like proving people wrong!” she tells us. “This whole stigma that women don’t belong in construction needs to end, and the only way of achieving this is to increase the number of female workers within the construction industry, and by highlighting the numerous career opportunities that are available to them. I believe that if more construction companies were to deliver more presentations and talks in secondary schools and increase awareness among the younger generation, it could inspire many young girls to view it as a viable career option.”

For Sheena, a career in construction was in her eyeline from an early age, as her father works as a Civils Manager and has amassed over 20 years of experience, working on numerous housing developments across Ireland and England. Weekends spent being shown around private sites and watching her dad power floating coloured Sheena’s childhood, and long evenings spent around the kitchen table looking at drawings and learning the meaning behind the types of drawings may have made little sense to her then, but these days were laying the foundation for what would eventually become Sheena’s career and greatest passion.

Before joining Glenveagh, Sheena was a qualified Special Needs Assistant working in a primary school in both its mainstream classes and ASD Units. “I learnt a lot from this line of work and feel it gave me an advantage when I joined Glenveagh as it equipped me with the necessary skills like time management, effective communication, conflict resolution, patience; all of which are essential for the fast-paced environment of construction,” she tells us.

Glenveagh

Another stepping stone on her journey into the world of construction came in 2010, when they began the process of building their home, and Sheena found herself poring over the drawings with her father, enthralled by the process of watching the foundations be laid and progress into this superstructure.

Sheena now works as Trainee Finishing Forewoman at Glenveagh, but what does this involve exactly?

“My role involves taking over works once the first fix has been completed. We then proceed with the second fix works, the whole way through to the snagging stage, meeting the homeowners, completing snag lists, and signing off the houses. Then, the best part comes: the handing over of the keys to the happy and excited customers!”

Here, Sheena points out yet another misconception about the role: that she deals with ‘finishing touches’ exclusively. “The house is far from ‘finished’ when we get to it,” Sheena explains. “We still have the second fix works ongoing. There is a lot more work involved with the finishing role; it’s not just straightening a lightbulb or touching up paint here and there!”

Addressing the elephant in the room, Sheena touches upon her experience joining an industry that is typically regarded as quite a male-dominated space: “Initially, when I first started working in construction, I did find it quite daunting and intimidating. However, this quickly changed the more I got to know the different trades on site. I’ve received a lot of support from them when I started in this role, many offering me advice whenever I needed it and answering any questions I had. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from the different tradespeople on site, as well as being able to have a good chat and laugh with them all at the same time!”

Though some workers may have found having a female boss surprising, Sheena tells us that they quickly learnt they had to overcome this and have respect from someone in management, male or female. Glenveagh has a zero-tolerance policy, which is taken very seriously.

Glenveagh

When asked to share some advice for other young women facing similar obstacles, Sheena says:

“My best advice is to not be afraid to stand your ground and to speak up. It’s so important to report any issues you are experiencing so that they can be dealt with accordingly. You will always have the full support from your site team and HR department. Another piece of advice I would give to anyone who may be reading this and are on the fence on whether to join the construction industry is do it! There are so many great opportunities here and it really is an incredible industry to work in. We just need more girl power!”

A woman who thoroughly enjoys just about every aspect of her job, Sheena Dowdall loves nothing more than watching the process of a house becoming a home, and seeing the excitement on customers’ faces when they receive the keys to their new home.

Over the course of the past three years spent with Glenveagh, Sheena has witnessed the high demand for more housing, and is proud of the ways in which Glenveagh do everything in their power to meet these demands while continuing to progress, grow and innovate as a company.

“It gives me a huge sense of pride to work for a company that delivers thousands of units a year and also a sense of respect when you get to witness first-hand the work that goes into the houses.”

Though working at Glenveagh has helped Sheena progress professionally in leaps and bounds, the time spent at the business has also helped her to learn more and more about herself as a person. “I feel it has benefited me greatly, as I was very shy and introverted before joining the company. Now, I am way more confident and outgoing. It’s also made me realise that I’ve a great interest in the construction industry, and I’m keen to progress even further in the future. My biggest and most important learning is that women have a place here too!”

As one of Ireland’s leading homebuilders, Glenveagh’s vision is that everyone should have the opportunity to access affordable, high-quality homes in flourishing communities across Ireland. They prioritise diversity and inclusivity across the company and are on a mission to break the male-dominated stereotype of the construction industry, encouraging women from all different backgrounds to join their team.