Natalie PetzoldtPositive strides for women in the AEC industry

The first annual Women in Design+Construction conference was held in November 2016 in beautiful Dana Point, California. This conference was sponsored by Building Design & Construction magazine and was a sold out event which brought together over a hundred women in the architecture, engineering and construction industry.  Leading up to the event, I served as an Advisory Board member who teamed up with 30+ leading AEC women professionals to bring compelling content on important issues women face in this fast-paced and highly competitive industry.

The three-day event included various panel sessions, speakers, networking events, workshops, seminars and even a hackathon. I had the honor of being invited to speak as part of a panel titled “Secrets of Success – How Women AEC Executives Made It, While Balancing Life + Family”. Other topics we learned about were The State of Women in AEC by the Numbers and Implicit Bias. On the second day conference attendees participated in a multi-hour hackathon, where we worked in teams to develop clever solutions (or “hacks”) to some of the biggest equity and diversity issues facing the AEC industry—from biases in the hiring/promotion process to the “potential vs. credential” phenomenon.

I was impressed with the diversity of the attendees who ranged from all over the US, as well as the breadth of the industry represented – 40% were from the architecture profession, 30% from engineering, 20% from construction and 10% from other aspects of the industry. Also, the age diversity among the female attendees was well represented with many who are early in their career looking for advice and mentoring, to those at mid-career experiencing evolution in their career to those who are more advanced with great advice to share. It was rewarding to connect with so many strong female leaders who want to mentor and make the industry even better.

Be sure to check out the Equity in Design summary that includes results from the Equity in Architecture Survey 2016. While most agree that the AEC industry has made many positive strides for women in the industry, there is always more that can be done and I’m proud to be involved to mentor and guide future leaders in our profession.