We ain’t many. I am not planning to shower you in statistics – if you want them, there are resources avalable a google search away, but if you think that the construction and technology industries are gender diverse, this blog may not be your cup of tea.
Feeling alone on a table with an average of 12 angry old white men has been part of my job description for a while. I must admit the technology/IT tables have been a little less white, which is a great thing, but just as or even more deprived of non-male people. The reasons for that seem very simple to me – feminine qualities are not generally celebrated in business. I have a wild theory about BIM however. BIM is a collaborative process that seems to be calling for something that is not exactly the typical values of masculinity – independence, competition, aggressiveness, assertiveness – focus on one goal. No. This process will finally thrive when there is willingness to collaborate, genuine cooperation and openness across construction disciplines and agreement and integration of the whole encompassing process that design and construction of a building is.
Now, what is relevant here is not how gender diversity and feminism as such, concern themselves with physical bodies and whatever genitalia may be attached to however may be identifying person so much, but the traits and values we celebrate. Because the issues of the patriarchy are not penises and vaginas, but, and in the corporate world especially – the ways in which we all consider things “feminine” less than, and even shameful. Because an openly queer soft spoken man, that does not insists on having the last word at a meeting even though he has nothing new to add, and may be even has his make up on fleek, is much more of a gender diversity success story than a successful woman that acts “like a man” and is “one of the boys”.
I understand that I may have lost a lot of you by now, and may have attracted some of you I may not want to attract, but let me reiterate once more – it’s not bad to be a man, it’s just ALSO super great to be feminine.
And back to BIM – the Women in BIM networking event, even with a modest number of participants, came for me with a sparkling silver lining. In this tired patriarchal system of architecture qualification and overall construction industry, BIM as a field seems to be the quenching watering hole, that can allow women to thrive and develop and climb up the ladder in a way we were not able to before.
The event was opened with a short intro by Karen Fugle giving us a bit of context on Women in BIM, talking about the international reach of the group. Then Vicki Holmes spoke about her unconventional career path and how this new field gave her a chance to grow. Her success was inspirational and she spoke with such palpable passion about her work. As someone who often gets excited about schedules and spreadsheets, I really felt she was speaking my language when she shared her love for reading standards. She also emphasised on the outreach of the group and the eagerness they had to get people out there to speak about the representation in our industry – that too excited me very much!
The last speaker was Cristina Savian, who shared her academic research and sparked an excited discussion. Understandably all present were in quite the agreement about the topic of it – the lack of gender diversity in the construction industry, but there were lots of people also wanting to express dismay with academics as a whole. Christina was very honest about her experience and let us on on feeling out of place and not good enough – classic imposter syndrome we all get at least once in a while, but she also shared a brilliant moment after speaking at an event when one of the very few women there approached her to say thank you and “I want to be like you” – a young woman, that seemed like, in Christina’s own words, only shared gender with her. Christina closed the evening on a lovely note: “That really showed me how important just me being there is”
You can find more about Women in BIM here.