ElevateHer Cohort She Belongs Here

A talk by Shibani Bisson, Melanie Bowcutt, Angel Farley, Jamie Claire Kiser and Christy Zweig
WSB, Horrocks Engineers, QK Inc., Zweig Group and Zweig Group

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About this talk

Biases, whether conscious or unconscious, are the primary cause of inequality within the AEC industry. The historically traditional model of business does not represent today’s diverse workforce and is causing loss of talent to other industries, which are providing more innovative and inclusive environments. Our goal is to change the visual of the AEC industry to educate young girls and society and to demonstrate that girls can build the world.

There is a proven leaky pipeline of girls and young women falling away from AEC career paths.  Biases start when we categorize children by gender, race, and ability, which kids usually experience at the onset of entering the education system.  Throughout their lives, they are taught or exposed to conscious and unconscious bias.  These gender stereotypes and biases often lead to girls thinking they cannot do certain things or even consider certain things – like being architects, engineers, or construction managers. This industry is utilized daily by the entire population but not considered as a career path by nearly half the population. In order to provide a real solution to the leaky pipeline we need to start exposing all children to the wonderful world of AEC early and often.  We believe that if we help girls in early education understand that these exciting careers exist they will build dreams of entering AEC early, just like having traditional dreams of being nurses and teachers.  We’ve built a program that will guide young girls throughout early and secondary education which will help address the leaky pipeline, with the intent of more women choosing AEC professions.  Our key approach is to change the visual of AEC by demonstrating that someone who looks just like them can be and is in this career. This is a long-term approach that can be implemented immediately.  Through this program we will not only teach all school-age girls about AEC, we will also educate their teachers and male classmates, changing the culture within schools everywhere.  The best part is that each of us will be empowered to lead this change in our own communities. 

Thesis statement: Addressing the leaky pipeline of women in AEC careers starts at the beginning – Kindergarten.

  • Shibani Bisson, Associate/Senior Project Manager, WSB
  • Melanie Bowcutt, Sr. Communications Manager, Horrocks Engineers
  • Angel Farley, Human Resources Manager, QK Inc.

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