International Women's Day graphic with cartoon women standing together
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Celebrating International Women's Day 2024

By Dr Whitney Bevan via RGU Communications - 06 March 2024

As part of RGU’s International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations, the University is hosting an International Women’s Day Breakfast to celebrate the diversity of women in the workplace. This year’s event is centred around the IWD 2024 theme #InspireInclusion. Organiser, Dr Whitney Bevan, lecturer in Construction Management, tells RGView more ...

My involvement with International Women’s Day at RGU started two years ago when I organised a small breakfast event. The current Dean of the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment, David Maclean, was very supportive. Our first event was very small, only about 13 people, but it was the foundation of a much bigger movement. The next year I held an event that included our School and others from across the University and I invited a panel of four women, including students, academics and leadership development specialist, Tina McGregor from RGU, along with Victoria Chalmers from Barrett Homes as a keynote speaker.

I’ve always been passionate about amplifying the voices of women and was inspired by my experience working at the Western Sydney University who held large breakfast events and my inspirational Dean of School, Kerry London. She was a real mentor to me; someone I’ve always looked up to and perhaps one of the most influential people who supported me in terms of my role and understanding how to raise awareness for women within our industry. I wanted to replicate the events in Sydney and to foster greater discussion around the roles and challenges facing women in the construction industry. My real goal, however, is to create a network and build a community of support for those within and entering the broader sector.

For me, it’s all about increasing visibility. RGU’s International Women’s Day Breakfast is getting bigger each year and is now in its third year. We’re expecting 50 to 100 people this year, and I want to encourage men to come along too. There’s no point in women just being there, we need men to join so that we can discuss barriers to entry and share different experiences.

We’ve invited guest speakers from the construction sector, and a panel of inspiring women, to discuss their experiences within their roles and thoughts on the International Women’s Day 2024 theme #InspireInclusion. The University has been extremely encouraging and has a very supportive Equality and Diversity Policy.

I think that women need to see other women doing the job. The panel of women and keynote speakers at our breakfast event, are all doing various jobs in industry, whether it’s Architecture, Architectural Technology, Project Management or Engineering. Many of my guests also have experiences with mentors within the industry and can demonstrate the types of jobs we need the future workforce to see.

The conference is also a great opportunity for women to network with others in the industry. It’s about having those small conversations with inspirational women already working in the sector, that will make a massive difference. I remember being the only female at my first site visit. If I’d had advice from a woman working in the sector, it would have helped me grow and develop.

For me, it's also about demystifying sectors and encouraging curiosity so that people know what opportunities there are. I teach Construction Project Management, but I don’t think everyone is aware of what it encompasses. There are so many different daily activities within the role, you could be on site or managing client relations offsite.

Encouraging more diversity, and ‘smashing’ stereotypes to #InspireInclusion is closely linked with skills. There’s a serious shortage of skilled professionals in the construction sector and other industries. We need to take a different approach to break down barriers and need people of all backgrounds, to encourage more inclusion in the workplace. We are taking steps to break ‘stereotypes’, we just need to do more of what we’re doing, more often and it’s going to take time.

Learn more about other events & activities at RGU celebrating International Women's Day

Image credit Freepik


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