2020 Emma Bell 191x103
Interview with
Emma Bell
Senior Project Manager

Senior Project Manager, Emma Bell is a passionate advocate for women in construction and is inspiring younger women and schoolgirls to just ‘give it a go’

 For Coffey’s Senior Project Manager, Emma Bell, working in construction was something she was destined for since she was a little girl.

“I’ve always been interested in construction, from a young age,” says Bell.

“I did carpentry at school, and was the only girl in the class.

“My father is a Mechanical Engineer, and he often spent weekends fixing, repairing or building things around the home.

“I loved helping out, passing him tools.”

Bell was introduced, officially, to the construction industry in 2008, when she was recruited as a Senior Project Officer for the Major Infrastructure Division of the Northern Territory Government.

“My mentor was amazing,” says Bell.

The industry has changed so much for the better since I started out

“I assisted in the master planning activities of the development and construction of two residential sub-divisions.”

 Bell says while she didn’t feel specific barriers in entering the industry, she often felt like the ‘token’ female in an industry dominated by men.

 “I know there are women who’ve had to deal with many barriers, but that’s just created a new level of resilience.

 “I believe women who are in the construction industry should be celebrated.

“Think of this, a teacher asks a girl of nine years, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if that girl said, ‘I want to design or build the next Shard Building’?”

 But Bell says during her time in the industry, she has seen some positive change.

“The industry has changed so much for the better since I started out,” says Bell.

“I remember struggling to get tailored women PPE and Clothing, and now it isn’t an issue. 

“Construction companies are now proactively recruiting for women as part of promoting diversity amongst its workforce, and a push for girls to take up STEM subjects is being advocated to encourage and inspire more women to work in the industry. It’s great.”

So passionate is Bell about encouraging more women into the construction industry, she’s taken on a role as ambassador for the Women in Construction Summit, a two-day event taking place March 19 and 20.

Bell, also one of Coffey’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee members, says it’s extremely important to promote women in construction through events like this.

“We need to inspire the younger women and schoolgirls to get into the construction industry.”

To girls and women considering trying their hand in construction, Bell says do it.

“I love the diversity it brings.

“One day you can be on site in PPE engaging with contractors and clients, the next in a Design Workshop or Risk Management Workshop.

“The construction industry has so many aspects to it – you never stop learning. For me, it’s now becoming increasingly vital for industry to focus on sustainability within the Built and Infrastructure environments – it’s good for business and our communities well-being.”

“It’s fun and you won’t look back - the world is your oyster.”