Women in BIM is an organisation that aims to draw together women in key strategic positions relating to technology and architecture and allow a portal for shared information and interaction. Women in BIM (WiB) has launched a database of women around the world who work in BIM.
The database will support women who work in this sector of the construction industry and act as a resource for learning. The database will also give women the opportunity to share their experience and offer their services as speakers and experts. Irish building magazine talked to three Irish WiB members: Louise Kelly, Avril Behan, and Emma Hayes, and Founder and Chairperson Rebecca De Cicco about the organisation and its work, and the coverage and representation of women in construction. The four ladies were interviewees for BIM People on BIMIreland.ie in the past year.
In her recent BIM People interview, Rebecca De Cicco outlined what the WiB organisation do. “We support and mentor. We encourage and promote. We aim to attract and retain.” Louise, Avril, and Emma spoke positively about the organisation, what they hope the organisation will achieve, and encouraged Irish ladies to join WiB.
Louise Kelly, Fulcro
Louise Kelly is a BIM Project Manager with Fulcro and Encourage and Support Lead with WiB. She told us why she joined WiB, saying “I became involved with Women in BIM after a conversation with its founder Rebecca De Cicco. As BIM was and to some extent still is, such a small part of the wider construction industry the number of women involved is in the minority. I wanted to help the initiative encourage more women into the industry but also to provide support and help retain women in the industry.”
Louise went on to say how she thinks WiB will influence the construction industry: “By promoting diversity and supporting other women, it should help see more women in BIM and digital construction related roles. I believe that the skills and the attention to detail that women usually possess makes them perfect candidates for these roles.” We asked what her opinions were of the coverage and representation of women working in the construction industry. Louise said, “Any coverage received has generally been positive. However, due to the fact that there are so few women in high-level roles, there is generally more coverage of men in construction.”
In recent years, Louise said there is an increase in the numbers of women getting leading roles in the construction industry. “Over the last few years, there has been an increase in visibility of women in leading roles within the industry. For example in the last 10 years, 3 out of 6 of the Presidents of the RIBA have been women, whereas in the previous 10 years they were all male. There are an increasing number of role models for young women entering the industry.” Louise recommends Irish women working with BIM to reach out to their peers and to ensure that they stay connected, saying “In my opinion, it is this networking and support that is vital to our success.”
Avril Behan is BIM Programmes Manager, Lecturer, and Assistant Head of School at Dublin Institute of Technology. Telling us why she joined WiB, she said, “There are too few women in construction generally and BIM specifically. If by being visible through a network such as this it helps girls to choose a rewarding career path then I wanted to do it.” Avril hopes WiB will increase diversity in the sector for the benefit of all.
Speaking of the coverage and representation of women working in construction, Avril said, “I think that where women are active the coverage is good but sometimes their absence is not remarked upon enough. Success stories are lauded but women have not been shown as sufficient role models. It has got better in some sections, particularly my own area, Geomatics, where nearly every promo image includes women.” Avril told us she thinks there is an increase in the numbers of women getting leading roles in some areas of construction but not all. Avril’s advice to Irish women working with BIM is “Speak up and encourage. BIM is about collaboration and women are very good at teamwork and achieving joint goals.”
Emma Hayes is Group BIM Applications Manager for PM Group. Emma told us why she joined WiB. “I joined Women in BIM to connect with peers from around the world to learn about their BIM experiences, thoughts and ideas and to share mine.”
Emma thinks WiB will allow women to network and help address gender diversity issues. “I believe Women in BIM will provide its members with a network of like-minded peers who will support the development of women’s careers in BIM and hopefully keep them in industry. Also, the Women in BIM database which is currently being compiled will provide the construction industry and local governments with information about women who are working with and influencing BIM so they can address gender diversity issues in the construction industry.”
Emma gave us her opinions on the coverage and representation of women in construction, mentioning the work of Irish building magazine and BIMIreland.ie in promoting gender diversity in the construction industry. “Recently there has been a discussion in the media about gender diversity and women working in the construction industry as noted in Irish building’s coverage of the AECOM workshop. This workshop aimed to explore ways to improve the industry’s gender diversity. I think this is a very positive increase in coverage of women working in the construction industry which has been heightened more recently by BIMIreland.ie’s coverage of the launch of the Women in BIM database. I look forward to much more in the future!”
Emma said there is no real increase in the number of women getting leading construction industry roles. “Unfortunately I do not see an increase in women getting leading roles in the construction industry, it is still a very male-dominated sector. This may be due to a lack of women role models providing guidance and support to younger or less experienced women in the industry. Women in BIM is a step in the right direction which I believe will develop an experienced, knowledgeable and confident group of BIM practitioners for the construction industry.”
Emma encouraged women to be proactive in the Irish Construction Industry’s BIM Journey and to get involved with WiB and CitA. “I would advise Irish women working with BIM to get involved – BIM is still a relatively new emerging process and there are lots of opportunities to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences which will have an impact on how BIM is adopted in Ireland. Joining Women in BIM would be a good start and connecting with organisations such as the Construction IT Alliance (CitA) will provide sources of knowledge and advice on BIM.”
WiB Founder and Chairperson and Digital Node Founder Rebecca De Cicco told us about the significance of women working in BIM working to support each other and encouraged Irish women to join. Rebecca said, “Women working in the construction industry should strive for the very best in terms of their desires and ambitions. BIM is only a small part of the built environment – yet a rapidly evolving one, and therefore women in these roles should acknowledge their unique abilities and support each other in all regions across the world. The database will connect us to ensure we have the support globally and Irish members are encouraged to join our database, connect with us and promote their skills to the wider built environment landscape.”
For to find out more about joining the WiB database, please go to http://womeninbim.net/faqs/
Over the past year, BIMIreland.ie has undertaken many interviews with Irish women working in BIM for our BIM People section. Please go to the website and read about their work. Irish building magazine and BIMIreland.ie will keep you informed of any news from WiB on the websites and in future magazine issues.