No more glass ceiling: How Filipinas are leading the way in green construction

CONSTRUCTION is typically perceived as a male-dominated industry, especially in the Philippines. But this perception is being proven wrong by several women who are now heading construction companies.

“The glass ceiling has a [gap] that you can gracefully climb up on,” said Cathy Saldana-Siegel, managing director and CEO of PDP Architects, Inc., at a Sept. 30 webinar organized by the Philippine Green Building Council.

“Women before us have put together a path,” she said, citing Alice G. Eduardo, president and CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp., as well as Isabelita Paredes Mercado, chairman of IPM Holdings, Inc. “It’s now up to us to put a red carpet on it.”

Ramona Margarita H. Cruz, manager of projects and renewable energy at Global Business Power Corp., said there were only a handful of women in construction sites in 2005.

“Women then tended to be in the back office, doing work like quality assurance and reviews. Now, it’s usual to see girls side-by-side with the boys. They give as good as the rest of the men,” Ms. Cruz said.

Daphne Odra-Sanchez, first vice-president of Filinvest Alabang, Inc., said a woman’s ability to view things holistically can be an asset in the construction industry.

“We look at the relationship of the space, the amenities that are put in the floor plan, and see how these details affect a resident’s lifestyle,” Ms. Odra-Sanchez said. “We are customers ourselves, so we understand what is needed.”

Sixty-four percent of all women worldwide who are in construction are found in Asia, as reported in a March 2020 post by Building Radar, an artificial intelligence-enabled company that informs customers about construction projects around the world.

In the Philippines, construction workers make up 52% of all workers employed by the industry sector, based on August 2021 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. — P.B.Mirasol