In late September, our industry is celebrating women in design and construction with two notable events: The Women in Design + Construction Conference (September 26 -28 in Chicago, Illinois) and the American Institute of Architects Women’s Leadership Summit (September 28 – October 1 in San Jose, California).
Recent data compiled from various sources, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA), National Architectural Accrediting Board, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that 25% in the architecture professional are women, and approximately 17% of the principals and partners at architectural firms are women. Undoubtedly, the number of women in architectural leadership roles continues to grow, and we celebrate that growth while striving for more rapid increases year upon year. These conferences bring women leaders together to connect and support each other. I have unique professional connections to both events this year that I am excited to share with you.
Women in Design and Construction (WiD+C)
This year marks the return to in-person after two years of virtual events for the WiD+C Conference, hosted by Building Design + Construction (BD+C) magazine. Since their first event in 2016, the editors of BD+C have collaborated with an advisory board of 30 Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) professionals to bring speakers and panels on topics relevant to women across the AEC industry. I have had the honor of being a member of the advisory board since the conference’s inception.
Unlike other conferences for women in design, the WiD+C appeals to a broad audience, including designers, engineers, architects, construction professionals, and vendors. Presentations and Continuing Education (CE) credits range in topics from leadership and empowerment to equity and the power of mentoring. There are opportunities for networking and socializing, and feelings of camaraderie, inclusion, and belonging permeate the multi-day conference each year.
The 2022 theme for the WiD+C is “CONNECT. LEARN. THRIVE.” We will celebrate the opportunity to be together (in real life!) with topics and panel discussions on finding balance post-Covid, the effects of the Great Resignation on AEC firms, and fresh insights on the state of our industry from AEC leaders.
The mix of AEC disciplines brings a richness and unique perspective to the discussions and helps us to better appreciate our counterparts across our fields.
AIA Women’s Leadership Summit (AIA WLS)
This year’s edition marks the first event since 2019, bringing four days of programming and networking opportunities. The event’s goals include raising the profile of women in the profession, exploring new paths to leadership, creating a learning environment that supports the needs of multiple career stages in one event, and providing a space for women architects to learn from one another.
The Minnesota Architectural Foundation’s (MAF’s) Beverly Hauschild Baron Leadership Fund (BHB Fund) Committee awards scholarships to female AIA Minnesota members to assist in the AIA WLS attendance costs. As chair of the BHB Fund Committee, I had the privilege to serve on a panel of professionals who selected Minnesota’s 2022 WLS scholarship recipients.
According to the MAF, “AIA WLS is one of the only gatherings where women architects and designers are surrounded by other women in a professional setting. It creates a candid, comfortable environment where women can contribute unique perspectives and facilitate conversations about challenges within the industry: Gaining respect on a construction site, negotiating, managing remote teams, getting promoted, and many others.”
Connection, Inclusion, and Belonging
These events offer extraordinary opportunities for women in the AEC industry to connect and share their knowledge and insights. With a passion for design and construction, inclusion, and belonging, I hope the energy generated from these events carries us into 2023 with renewed optimism and confidence as women in the profession.