En­gi­neers and ar­chi­tects con­front their gen­der prob­lem

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS -

En­gi­neers and ar­chi­tects across New Zealand have come to­gether to launch a provoca­tive cam­paign call­ing for in­creased rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women in their pro­fes­sions.

The Di­ver­sity Agenda is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween En­gi­neer­ing New Zealand, the New Zealand In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects (NZIA) and the As­so­ci­a­tion of Con­sult­ing En­gi­neers ( ACENZ). It is a com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion, with an ini­tial fo­cus on women, with the goal of get­ting 20 per­cent more women in en­gi­neer­ing and ar­chi­tec­ture by 2021.

En­gi­neer­ing New Zealand Pres­i­dent Dean Kimp­ton says it’s time to stand up for a bet­ter gen­der balance. “While other pro­fes­sions have in­creased their pro­por­tion of women, our in­dus­try has re­mained stub­bornly male- dom­i­nated. Es­pe­cially at se­nior lev­els, where women are mas­sively un­der­rep­re­sented – quite frankly, it’s chang­ing too slowly.”

NZIA Pres­i­dent Christina van Bo­he­men says only 20 per­cent of all Reg­is­tered Ar­chi­tects and NZIA Fel­lows are fe­male. She is only the sec­ond fe­male Pres­i­dent of NZIIA in 113 years. “The pur­suit of gen­der equal­ity is both a moral is­sue, and an eco­nomic im­per­a­tive for suc­cess in the 21st cen­tury.”

ACENZ Pres­i­dent Mike Kerr says the fact that firms are lin­ing up to sup­port the cam­paign shows there is a drive for change. “It’s the first time our pro­fes­sions have ral­lied around this is­sue. We want to see tan­gi­ble ac­tion – and that’s why we’ve launched the Di­ver­sity Agenda.”

Nearly 40 or­gan­i­sa­tions have al­ready com­mit­ted to the Di­ver­sity Agenda and its ini­tial fo­cus on women in the pro­fes­sion.

The cam­paign will con­tinue to sign up or­gan­i­sa­tions, ask them to com­mit to tak­ing ac­tion – and pub­licly hold them ac­count­able. It’s backed up by a hard- hit­ting so­cial me­dia cam­paign fea­tur­ing the sto­ries of women work­ing in ar­chi­tec­ture and en­gi­neer­ing.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions sup­port­ing the cam­paign in­clude: AECOM, ar­chi­tec­tus, Art­house Ar­chi­tects, Auck­land Coun­cil, Aure­con, Beca, Batchelar McDougall Con­sult­ing, Boss­ley Ar­chi­tects, Cheshire Ar­chi­tects, chowhill, Con­tact En­ergy, Con­text Ar­chi­tects, Davis Ogilvie, De­sign­group Sta­ple­ton El­liott, Downer, Elec­tric­ity

En­gi­neers En­gi­neers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, GHD, Her­riot Mel­huish

O’Neill Ar­chi­tects, Har­ri­son Gri­er­son, HEB

Con­struc­tion, Holmes, isth­mus, Jas­max,

Merid­ian En­ergy, Moller Ar­chi­tects, NZ

Trans­port Agency, RTA Stu­dio, Sal­mond

Ar­chi­tec­ture, Scar­let Ar­chi­tects, Sills van

Bo­he­men, Stan­tec, Stevens Law­son

Ar­chi­tects, Stu­dio Pa­cific Ar­chi­tec­ture,

Sul­li­van Hall, Thorne Dwyer Struc­tures,

Tonkin + Tay­lor, Univer­sity of Auck­land,

War­ren and Ma­honey, Water­care,

WSP Opus. Cam­paign tal­ent in­cludes:

KATIE SY­MONS

Struc­tural en­gi­neer at Batchelar McDougall Con­sult­ing.

Sy­mons moved to New Zealand a year ago from the United King­dom. She has three chil­dren un­der the age of seven, and works four days a week.

“It’s much eas­ier if you’re got an em­ployer who’s sym­pa­thetic to these needs. The whole of so­ci­ety is re­al­is­ing we need to change the way that the work­ing week is or­gan­ised. The com­pa­nies that do best will be the ones that em­brace the change ear­li­est.”

JULIE STEWART

Se­nior ar­chi­tect at Stu­dio Pa­cific Ar­chi­tec­ture.

Orig­i­nally from the United States, Stewart reg­is­tered and worked in Lon­don be­fore mov­ing to New Zealand five years ago, and has t wo chil­dren.

She says the cam­paign cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity for ev­ery­one in the in­dus­try to get on the same page. “We know that di­ver­sity makes firms more en­gaged, more creative and more prof­itable. We must re­flect the so­ci­ety that we serve – and women are no­tice­ably ab­sent from the table. In ar­chi­tec­ture, when we start out we’re look­ing good. But then there are pinch points: reg­is­tra­tion, and par­ent­hood.”

DAR­RYL- LEE WENDELBORN

Manag­ing Di­rec­tor of Beca.

Wendelborn has been at Beca for 22 years, in seven dif­fer­ent roles. She sees en­gi­neer­ing as all about cre­at­ing com­mu­ni­ties and mak­ing them work for peo­ple to live in. “[As a pro­fes­sion], we’re los­ing women and we’re not bring­ing them back in – and that’s our big­gest chal­lenge right now.”

“No one comes into this in­dus­try in­tend­ing to dis­crim­i­nate – they’re just not aware. This cam­paign is about mak­ing it clear we’ve got an in­ten­tion to do some­thing dif­fer­ent – so that we talk about it. And the more we talk about it, , the more we lif t that un­con­scious o bias.”

SARAH BISHOP

Di­rec­tor of Isth­mus.

Bishop says ar­chi­tec­ture is a creative, re­ward­ing re­wardin pro­fes­sion that, while it’s be­com­ing more di­verse, still needs more women.

She says em­ploy­ers must take a long- long-term term vie view. “Flex­i­bil­ity is key, with peo­ple need­ing to be able to tran­si­tion tran­siti be­tween full and part time work.”

Isth­mus has about a 50/50 gen­der split, with three women on its Board.

STEPHEN MCDOUGALL

Di­rec­tor of Stu­dio Pa­cific A Ar­chi­tec­ture. McDougall says it’s we well known that teams with greater di­ver­sity dive are more pro­duc­tive, with an eff ef­fect on the bot­tom line.

He says meet­ing di di­ver­sity tar­gets comes from chang­ing be­hav­iours, from day-to- day con­ver­sa­tions con­versa and how you treat each other to f lexible work. “Men are part of the prob­lem, but we’re also part of th the so­lu­tion.”

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