WHEN Emilija Trajkovska decided to become a civil engineer, her father and grandfather tried to talk her out of joining the male-dominated industry.
Now, they couldn't be happier to hear Emilija has been nominated for the National Association of Women in Construction's 2015 Queensland Crystal Vision Awards evening which highlights the work of women in the construction industry.
Emilija moved to Rockhampton as a site engineer on the Yeppen South Project, after working on a tunnelling project in Brisbane.
"The best thing about this project is there's so many different components," she said.
"I got the ability to do piling first, doing the foundations of the bridge and then move on to precast of the girders.
"It's two completely different types of civil engineering and I had no experience or idea what it was beforehand."
Emilija's interest in engineering grew partly out of her love for mathematics, which developed after her family moved from Macedonia when she was a child.
"I didn't know any English and I was always better at maths, because maths is the same in every language," she said.
Emilija was also attracted to the industry after time spent driving around job sites with her stepfather as part of their family concreting company in her teens.
But the most essential skill for an engineer is one most people wouldn't usually consider.
"I was always a people person and that's what you really need to work in construction," Emilija said.
"You need to be able to talk to people and if you can't get your message across clearly, there's always a worry something might happen, whether it's that something's not constructed properly or someone might get hurt."
Emilija said there were four female engineers compared to 18 or 20 male engineers on the Yeppen South Project.
But this ratio is an improvement on Emilija's last project, where she was the only female engineer.
She said reaching gender equality would benefit everyone in the construction industry, bringing different strengths to the table.
"You need a balance of both," Emilija said.
"If you have two people with two different views, the good thing is you've got everything covered."
Despite the male-dominated industry, Emilija said she'd never experienced discrimination because of her gender.
"I think it's sort of cool to be the underdog. I think slowly if more females are in the industry we will become less of an underdog, but there'll be more support and it will be accepted more worldwide," she said.
Award entries close on Friday, June 26. For more information and to enter visit nawic.com.au.