Cemfree is pioneering sustainable building materials and they are also breaking down barriers and championing women in the construction industry. We sat down with two of Cemfree’s Concrete Technologists, Marta Diez-Garcia and Jane Ghosh to discuss their personal journeys into science, the industry and how attitudes are changing for the better.
STARTING A CAREER IN SCIENCE & CONSTRUCTION
Jane and Marta both followed similar career paths that have led them to be colleagues at Cemfree. They had a passion for Chemistry and studied it at university level, but neither Jane nor Marta planned for a career in the construction industry. “I had an interest in art restoration/conservation at university so working with cement was not always something I had in mind” Marta said, “but I was able to complete a PhD about the synthesis of nanoparticles in cement, and it seemed like a great progression to start a role with Cemfree as a technologist.
Similarly, Jane found herself working with concrete after growing up opposite a cement works but did not see it as a career path for her. “I had an interest in Chemistry so I studied it at university, but once I had finished I wanted to move back home. Being back opposite the cement works, I got a job there before I moved on to Cemfree, and it was there that started my passion for the industry.”
During both their careers, there have been some unlikely barriers to Jane and Marta as women being able to work in the industry, which many would not simply think about. From no female toilets on a main batching plant to no PPE available in female sizes.
Jane does not want women today to be told they cannot do something and aims to champion women in the industry: “I would advise women who want to join our industry, or any industry, to just go for it. If you are truly passionate about something you should follow that, regardless of what other people might tell you.”
Marta had similar advice, she said: “Don’t be afraid to join the industry just because of your gender, if you are interested in a role then do it. Attitudes have changed and it is a diverse, exciting industry to be in.”
WORKING IN CONSTRUCTION
Jane and Marta are enjoying their roles at Cemfree, and the innovative work they are doing, creating products that will change the industry for the better. Jane said: “I am so proud to be working at Cemfree, especially as we become more aware of the changes that must happen, and we make the change towards more environmentally-friendly, carbon-neutral products. Being part of the innovation is really exciting.”
Marta agreed, and added: “It is incredible playing an active role in the pioneering work that Cemfree are doing, to make much-needed changes in the industry.”
WHAT INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY MEANS TO THEM
Jane and Marta look forward to celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2023 and will be thinking about what this year’s theme #EmbraceEquity means for them.
Both Jane and Marta will use the time to reflect on the women who inspire them the most: “I am constantly inspired by the pioneering women who have already broken the barriers in education, and the construction industry because without them I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today,” said Marta.
Jane agreed and said: “I am inspired by the women who fought for our rights which has led to me being able to have my career today, and I am inspired by the women who continue to break down barriers, particularly in countries where it is still desperately needed.”
Jane and Marta recognise attitudes have changed for the better in their industry, but that there is still work to be done elsewhere. “I always celebrate International Women’s Day” said Marta, “It is a great time to listen to other women’s experiences across the globe and recognise that there is still work to be done to ensure we are not discriminated against.”
Jane added: “It’s important we have International Women’s Day so that we can keep the momentum going in women’s rights and continue to champion women entering the workplace, particularly in roles that previously might not have been open to them.”