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Observations | Women's History Month

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March is Women’s History Month and as a woman-owned firm, it provides Bailey Edward an important reminder to acknowledge where women stand in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. Women have a come a long way, but not without facing trial and tribulation. Furthermore, it is clear there is still a level of inequality in the profession that leaves much to be desired.

According to CNN, in a recent survey of the world’s biggest AEC firms, only three were headed by women and only two firms employ an equivalent number of male and female project managers. At Bailey Edward, Ellen Dickson, FAIA, leads the firm as Managing Principal and 37% of staff is female.

As in other industries, there has been a recent surge to combat this issue. Bringing light to the problem is the first step as the industry acknowledges there is room for improvement. Equity by Design (EQxD) is an organization that advocates for awareness of the lack of equity in the AEC industry. Rosa Sheng, one of the founders of EQxD states, “Equitable Design in the workplace and in our interactions in practice with clients and communities has the ability to bring about unique problem-solving skills to highly political issues related to access of essential services, public space, affordable real estate, and urban resources.”

According to Dezeen, the number of female awards jurists rose from 31 to 42 percent among eight international architecture and design awards programs. Trends are showing a positive rate of women graduating with architectural degrees and entering the field, and female attrition has reduced over the past few years.

In an interview with the New York Times, Deborah Berke, dean of architecture at Yale and principal of her own firm stated, “Architecture needs to look like the world it serves — and that’s everybody.”

Ellen earned her Fellowship for the support and mentorship of women in the field of architecture and business. As a leader in the industry, she continues her efforts with programs such as AIA Chicago Bridge and TransFORM events centered on mentoring in the AEC community. With leaders such as Ellen, the state of women in the AEC industry can progress.

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