Challenging Our Industry – Gender Diversity in AEC and Technology

I still vividly remember attending my first ever RTC, standing with one of my female colleagues on the first morning and a man saying to us “It’s nice to see there are women here this year!”   We did wonder what kind of event we had come along to.  For me, BILT has always been a welcoming community.  Disappointingly however, almost 10 years later, unfortunately women do remain in the minority at BILT, reflecting  a wider industry issue – the lack of women involved in technology in architecture, engineering and construction.  I’ve written about this specifically in relation to architecture, but engineering and construction face the same issues.

The BILT ANZ committee believe that gender diversity stands to help improve our industry and our community.  We want to improve gender diversity and support change in our wider industry. As well as standing to positively impact financial performance of organisations, gender diversity helps everyone by improving options for flexibility and work life balance, an issue that is also critical within our industry.

Our audience tend to be at the forefront of change in technology and many are passionate about doing better work and making their workplaces better through technology.  We want to take the opportunity to harness this spirit of change which already exists within our community.  We want you to be part of helping us to challenge our industry.

We are therefore excited to announce a special session at BILT ANZ 2018.  To be held on Friday 25 May, “Challenging Our Industry – Gender Diversity in AEC and Technology” will be a forum session, moderated by Justine Clark, an architectural editor, writer, speaker and researcher,and is the editor of Parlour.  PARLOUR: a space to speak – bringing together research, informed opinion and resources; generating debate and discussion; expanding the spaces for women in Australian architecture.  Parlour is a vital space for the discussion of gender equity in Australian architecture.  Among some of the things Parlour does: Parlour builds networks & communities. Parlour provides the evidence.  We see Parlour as great partner for BILT in running this panel event and promoting gender diversity.

Justine will be joined by Elizabeth Harper, Chief Information Officer at GHD and Todd Battley, Chief Executive at AECOM, as well as Dr. Glenda Caldwell, Senior Lecturer at QUT in Design Robotics.  Our panel members have been carefully selected as influential representatives of our industry or the broader technology industry.  They do not to come from within our traditional community, in order to encourage a more diverse viewpoints than might be achieved by our own regular speakers and committee members participating.

The full session abstract is below:

Every business can benefit through diversity within their workforce.  The benefits of diversity are real and are measurable and those companies taking action are benefiting.  The benefits of diversity include access to a wider talent pool, more flexibility for everyone and even higher financial performance for organisations with higher diversity measures.

For BILT, the issues of diversity are most evident in terms of gender representation.  Our community has a high proportion of men. Around 85-90% of our attendees in ANZ are male, and the number of female participants has not been increasing.  Speaker numbers are lower again. We have been criticised by female members of our community for the low rate of women’s participation. To what degree this is something we can control is to be explored.

Some background reading:

http://archiparlour.org/will-architectural-technology-create-the-next-generation-gender-divide/

http://archiparlour.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Numbers-in-a-Nutshell-2.pdf

The BILT ANZ committee believe that gender diversity will help improve our industry and our community.  We want to improve gender diversity and support change in our wider industry. Our audience tend to be at the forefront of change in technology and many are passionate about doing better work and making their workplaces better through technology, we see there could be the opportunity to harness this spirit of change which already exists within our community.

This session aims to explore the questions:

  • Why is gender diversity important?
  • How does gender diversity benefit everyone?
  • What can an individual be doing to help promote change?

The session will include time for audience questions and discussion so please come along ready to participate and challenge our industry.

Image: Courtesy of BrisBIM

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