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How different things would be with more women in the industry

legal matters

Ever one to champion the cause of the hardpressed professional woman, my eye was caught by a recent press release issued by the National Association for Women In Construction (NAWIC).

NAWIC is the brainchild of Lorraine Elliott, who has encouraged a number of like-minded women - from a wide variety of backgrounds, including legal, architectural, quantity surveying, marketing and recruitment - to join together to form the group.Their aim is to be a positive instrument for change and improvement in the industry, and address the fact that only 10 per cent of the UK's construction workforce is female.

Inevitably, this got me thinking. Much as I dislike gender-based generalisations, there is no doubt that women go about things differently, particularly on the organisational front and, dreadful word though it is, multitasking.

Having worked with teams of men in the past, striving hell for leather to meet almost impossible deadlines, it occurred to me, independently of NAWIC's good work, that things would have been different had there been more women involved.

So without suggesting that one approach has anything to recommend it over any other, I set out some conversations that I confidently predict would not have happened if a team of women were obliged to meet, for example, a 14-day deadline:

D-day minus 14Woman: 'We need more time.

It's ridiculous. We can't do this in the time available. We have to assimilate a lot of material and then analyse it. You know what will happen. It's not in anyone's interests if we have to do it in a rush and it ends up a right muddle.'

Man: 'There is no point asking for more time - we won't get it.'

D-day minus 13 Man: 'You'll never guess what? They gave us the extra time we asked for.'

D-day minus 10 Woman: 'If we have to get this thing out by next week, I will need the client's final input by the end of this week and the expert's report first thing Monday morning.'

Man: 'Well I can ask, but I doubt whether they will come up with it by then.'

42 D-day minus six (evening) Man: 'I've finally got the client's input. Can you have a look at these drafts by return and incorporate any amendments by first thing tomorrow morning?'

Woman: 'I'll arrange some babysitting.'

D-day minus five (early morning) Woman: 'I assume that there is more to come from this chap. I've only got a page and a half.'

Man: 'Yes, that is all he is going to produce.'

D-day minus three (early) Man: 'He's had another look at it. Here are another 22 pages.'

Woman: 'Good. I'll mark them up with my comments.'

(Later) Man: 'He has made some further amendments.'

Woman: 'He hasn't seen my comments yet.

Which draft are we working on?'

D-day minus two Woman: 'Where's the expert's report?'

Man: 'I've just been told, he's not available today.'

D-day (lunchtime) Man: 'We are never going to finish it in time and it's going to take three hours to courier it.

I'll just have to ask for more time.'

Woman: 'Well, so long as there are no further changes, an extra day would allow us to print out the documents, finish the copying and ensure that it is couriered off for close of business tomorrow.'

D-day plus 1 (morning) Man: 'We have some further comments from the client.'

Woman: 'Which draft are we working on?'

(Lunchtime) Man: 'Which draft are we working on now?'

(Afternoon) Man: 'I'll have to go over to their offices to sort out these drafts.'

(Late evening) Man: 'If I send over the final draft, will you incorporate the revisions that the client has produced this afternoon?'

Woman: 'Yes. After that I'm going home.'

D-day plus two Man: 'Do you know, I was there until after midnight. It was too late to courier it.'

Woman: 'Really. I think I will join NAWIC.'

NAWIC's website can be found at www. nawic. co. uk

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