Last Saturday, over 80 architects, engineers, and construction professionals gathered to raise awareness on women’s contributions to the AEC industry at the Women’s March on NYC. Sporting neon pink hard hats and bright orange signs that read, Women BUILD, the group’s message was loud and clear.
Over a dozen organizations were represented; teams came from Thornton Tomasetti, Perkins Eastman, Marvel Architects, FXCollaborative, Silman Engineering, ArchiteXX, BuroHappold, and CannonDesign, among others. The leadership from FXWomen said seeing everyone march in solidarity, from young engineers to managing principals, men and women alike, was encouraging.
“The group that represented our industry at the Women’s March showed that gender equity isn’t a ‘women’s issue,'” they told AN in an email. “It affects everyone and is supported by a diverse group that reflects the communities we design for.”
— Tim Milam (@TimMilam) January 19, 2019
The day’s event was organized by Dattner Women’s Group. The team began reaching out to design-related companies across New York in November to get the conversation started about last weekend’s march. At a community meetup last month, the firms came up with the #WomenBUILD2019 campaign and created matching posters that would boost their presence among the crowd. “Women Architects Here” some signs read, and others encouraged youth to “Join Us, Think Big.”
Carisima Koenig of the Women’s Forum at CannonDesign said throughout the morning her team met other architects not directly affiliated with the Women BUILD cohort who ended up joining alongside them. “We had extra signs, so we distributed them along the march route,” she said. “As a group, it made an impact to have a cohesive message and for the city to see we are here.”
Not only did the city take notice, but children—who marched alongside the Women BUILD group—did too. “At one point during the march, a mother and daughter were pointing to our signs and discussing what kinds of jobs the different icons represented,” said Dattner’s Rebecca McCarthy. “That was a really special moment. I hope that young people who saw our group will feel they can grow up to be whatever they want to be, and that we demonstrated that’s really possible.”
Employees from other firms at the march issued similar sentiments about the group’s influence and what the future of the industry could look like if people continue to take a stand against the problems that have long plagued architecture. They believed their shared presence together, not as competitors but as proponents of an equal society, only amplified some of the recent discussions that have come online as a result of the #MeToo movement.
“We want everyone considering a career in architecture, engineering, and construction to know that the industry has a place for them,” said FXWomen. “We’re waiting for them and transforming this profession into one that is worthy of their talents.”