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News & opinion

29 JAN 2019

Why are the Asian Women of Achievement Awards so significant?

RICS is a proud supporter of the Asian Women of Achievement Awards and 2019 sees the launch of the Real Estate, Construction and Infrastructure award. This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contribution of Asian women in the built environment.

We learn more from Women of the Future winners and nominees about why the awards are significant.

Dr.Tara Shirvani 

Dr.Tara Shirvani, 2018 Woman of the Future Award winner speaks about why the Asian Women of Achievement Awards will really benefit from the real estate, infrastructure and construction category, and the differences this can make for the winner and what changes are necessary for the future.

Tara explains why it is important to have an Infrastructure and construction category in the Asian women of achievement awards.

"To me it is of crucial importance to shed the light on more young women working in the built environment. Partly the sector is suffering from decades of poor perception and opportunities for women. However the STEM industry, especially in Asia is at the forefront of driving technology and innovation for all of us in the Western Hemisphere. As such to have a category under the Asian women of achievement awards becomes of paramount importance to shed the light on where change is happening the fastest.

"Receiving the Women of the Future Award in 2018 has been a monumental moment in my career as it has allowed me to not only expand my circle of influence both within the institution I am working with but also to be able to network with a myriad for equally talented women in the industry more broadly. I also have been able to receive more departmental resources and funding to roll out my efforts around Digitalization Initiatives in the Transport Sector.

"I think the two key changes we now need to strive for are fairly simple: 1) Gender Parity in Mid to Senior levels of decision making and 2) Equal salary remunerations. Once we achieve those two then there will be an inherent monumental shift in the way the industry will continue to grow and develop."


Nominations for the awards close on 8th February.

Nominate now

Haidee Gonsalves 

2017 Women of the Future nominee, Haidee Gonsalves, Associate Director, Hi-Tech and Manufacturing with Turner and Townsend speaks of the importance of a Real Estate, Infrastructure and Construction award being launched.

"Asian workers within the construction sector make up between 2.2 – 3.8% of their ethnic group in employment in the UK (average across all ethnic groups is 7.4%) despite Asian people of working age in employment being notably above the UK average of 81%. This demonstrates to me that there still needs to be a change in mind-set within the Asian population that you cannot develop a successful career within non-traditional vocations.

"The ability to showcase truly inspirational talent within the Asian community and in the sector goes a long way to give real examples of what can be achieved. Visibility is key for more women to be attracted to the sector, one which is experiencing a skill shortage which could be solved by greater diversity."

Haidee talks about what her Women of the Future nomination has meant to her career.

"It made me sit-up and take note of my achievements, which I find a lot of women don't have the luxury of doing as they are too busy striving to be better than their counterparts to achieve the same level of praise.

"However, the best outcome for me of the shortlisting were the networks that I have become part of, particular of note is the RICS Women of the Future network – to be supported and support others in getting the best out of their ambitions. It provides the forum to test out ideas, ask for advice and face challenges you didn't think you were capable of. Subsequently, I have looked at my career with a renewed focus and ambition that I don't believe I would have had otherwise."

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Vidhya Isaac-Langford 

Arcadis Senior Project Manager, Vidhya Isaac-Langford reflects on what can be done over the next 20 years to ensure that there are more Asian women attracted to infrastructure, and what being nominated as a Woman of the Future in 2017 means to her.

Vidhya comments about the importance of the awards to the built environment, in a rapidly changing world.

"The UK rail infrastructure sector, within which I work, is currently seeing an unprecedented level of investment but is poor in gender diversity and has a skills gap. We are the change that's needed to empower more Asian women to join and lead in the Real Estate, Infrastructure and Construction sectors. What better way to attract the right, diverse future talent to our profession than by promoting a positive image of successful and relatable role models in our industry, leading their fields, through the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, by saying, 'if I can, you can too!'

"Being shortlisted in the Real Estate, Infrastructure and Construction category of the prestigious Women of the Future award was a very empowering experience, giving me a great platform from which to continue to influence, motivate, inspire and shine a light on the achievements of all those around me. I have immensely enjoyed being part of the WOF network, inspired everyday by the many achievements of all the women in the network, share my career journey and stories with others and learn strategies for success.

"In my sector, more relatable Asian role models, access to networks of collaboration and mentoring are all changes that would encourage and inspire more Asian women to be successful and progress in the next 20 years. I know this will make a difference in the lives of many young women, informing their career choices and better the gender diversity in rail, construction, and other industries, particularly in senior roles."