Insiders Guide: Stacey Mendonca
Celebrating Women in Construction, Thistle Hall, 10am-6pm, September 18-23.
Why did you found NAWIC?
After shifting here from Christchurch and starting to work for Fletcher Construction, I really missed female company. I had recently met architect Gina Jones on a project, and we decided to get a group of women from the industry together. About 40 women turned up and the atmosphere was astonishing. It was quite rare to have so many women in our industry in one room. Everyone enjoyed it so much we had to become established into a formal group.
Is there anything the boys won’t let you do?
I’m mostly based in the head office, so I am not out on projects often. Not many guys put up a barrier and try to stop me from doing anything. Most are taken aback that I would want to climb up to the roof or ride on the top of a lift car. Although, once a crane driver wouldn’t let me up to the top of the crane, which secretly suited me.
What stereotypes do you run into at your workplace?
Things like drinking beer or playing golf? Some of my workmates find it strange that I work part time while I have kids at school, but I have been working there for 19 years and they are used to my shorter days. I figure I have years of working life to go, and my part time status will change as the kids get older.
Is this the first exhibition of Women in Construction photographs?
Yes, we had a couple of inspiring speakers – one in the art community and the other challenged us to take some risks and ‘stand tall’. One of our members, Cathy Tracy, attended both events and approached us. It was only natural to combine the two ideas and an exhibition became the perfect solution. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to host an exhibition!
Do women often quit jobs because they’re dominated by men?
No. Our industry is fast paced, challenging, and at times very time consuming. It could be women leave because they are ‘burnt out’ and exhausted, or they cannot combine part time work with raising kids.
Is sexual harassment still a big problem?
No, I struggle to recall an example. Many of our clients and project consultants are women, so only a fool would say something inappropriate. There will always be the friendly banter around the workplace, but mostly I think the guys enjoy having a woman on their project team and onsite.
Are there any women role models in your field who you look up to?
Gina Jones from Accent Architects has always been a role model for me. She is enormously busy as a director of her architectural practice, yet she always has time to spend with me when I call her up.