Just don't treat me like a man, says Queensgate rebuild foreman Cara Daggar

Queensgate Mall rebuild site foreman Cara Daggar is relishing the challenge of her role in a male-dominated field.
ELEANOR WENMAN/STUFF

Queensgate Mall rebuild site foreman Cara Daggar is relishing the challenge of her role in a male-dominated field.

Since she was a teenager, Cara Daggar knew she wanted to work with buildings.

Now, the 29-year-old working as site foreman at Queensgate Mall in Lower Hutt, one of the very few woman in construction management jobs in New Zealand.

Originally from Dunedin, Daggar has been with construction company Naylor Love for two and a half years as part of a site management cadetship.

As site foreman, she's often out on the grounds, overseeing work on the shrink-wrapped section of the mall. Demolition work on Queensgate has finished, but Naylor Love is working with mall owners to rebuild.

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"I would be lying if I said there weren't challenges that I would be the only woman around, but I have been really lucky with the team around me," she said.

Often those challenges came in the form of having to prove herself, or people being surprised at her role in a traditionally male-dominated field.

"Hopefully it will change over time."

The key thing was she did not want to be treated as a man. Differences and strengths should be celebrated, she said.

She has spent time talking at high schools around the region about her role and what she does. Growing up, no-one told her about opportunities in the trades, and she wanted other young women to know what was out there.

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She started off studying architecture at Victoria University. She ended up working as a draughtswoman, interpreting drawings and learning how buildings fitted together.

"Basically what I used to do was translate architecture for the manufacture of components."

She spent a lot of time sitting in front of a computer screen, something she decided she didn't want to do. She wanted to be outside, talking to people and watching things happen.

"I work on helping plan the weeks onsite. I make sure the right people are there at the right time – subcontractors and the like."

It's a mix of predicting what will happen that week, and dealing with any problems that come up. 

That sometimes made for long hours, but Daggar said she liked to take care with her work.

"For me, because I'm new, I spend quite a bit of time making sure of myself. More experienced site managers might be able to make a call, but I take extra time double-checking."

 - Stuff

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