Female project manager wins construction award

The woman in charge of the Waterview Connection project has won a major award for her work in the construction industry.

Lynne Makepeace of Fletcher Construction won the Professional Woman of the Year (Construction category) award from the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

“I didn’t expect to win, to be honest,” Ms Makepeace said. “It’s recognition of the scale of the job I’m working on at the moment.”

The Waterview Connection is a $1.4 billion project to complete a motorway ring route around Auckland, to be completed in 2017.

NAWIC acting president Diana Barr said the award recognised Ms Makepeace’s “huge contribution over a long period of time”, as well as the success and impact of the Waterview Connection project.

Although the awards are annual, Ms Barr says they look at a nominee’s history in the sector.

Ms Makepeace has been an engineer since 1987, beginning her career in Scotland.

She was the only female in her year at university, and the only woman on the construction sites she worked on for the first four years of her career, she said.

In those early days, she was subject to sexual harassment and “derogatory comments”.

But: “It’s changed a lot for the better,” she told Te Waha Nui. “Females are a lot more respected now.”

Ms Barr said the calibre of the finalists for the award was “very very high”.

She says there are “many women doing great things in construction” and general industry awards do not reflect that.

Nicola Naismith, senior lecturer in Engineering at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), said the awards were “a positive thing” for women in the industry.

Only 8-12 per cent of workers in the engineering and construction industries worldwide are female, she said, and this had “changed very little” over the past 20 years.

Other NAWIC award winners included Karen Sanderson of Beca, who won Professional Woman of the Year in the professional category.