Architect’s Corner: Women in Architecture
Women Working Together To Put Everyday Allyship into Action
by Yu-Ming Wei, AIA, principal, HED, AIALA WiA co-chair & Jennifer Noel Wong, AIA, NCARB, LEED® AP BD+C, associate, CO Architects, AIALA WiA past co-chair
Defined as supportive association with another person or group, specifically with members of a marginalized or mistreated group to which one does not belong, the term allyship has become part of our everyday language and mindset.
To further this progressive movement, the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles (AIALA) Women in Architecture Committee (WiA) is giving special attention to commonplace allyship this year by celebrating the everyday allies who speak up and confront daily injustices, who humbly encourage others, who intentionally do the work for effective change without hesitation or expectations of recognition, one day at a time, one interaction at a time. Allies are welcome, regardless of gender identity, to join in pursuit of this goal.
With these goals in mind, the AIA Los Angeles WiA seeks to connect with its sister organizations and professional allies in construction; an industry in which women comprise only 10.9% of the workforce. Recently, the WiA formed a partnership with the Women Working Together (WWT) alliance, a collaboration between AEC industry professional organizations, including the WiA; National Association of Women in Construction Los Angeles Chapter; Structural Engineers Association of Southern California Women in Structural Engineering Committee; and Women in Construction Operations Southern California Chapter.
Because there are so few women in construction careers, many women working in this industry find themselves as the only woman in the room or at the table. Each of the organizations represented in WWT bring together working professionals who interact on construction projects yet have different views of this table and ideas based on where they sit. This diverse perspective gives the group the unique opportunity to mentor and support one another.
Leveraging the relationships of this newly formed alliance, our WWT team launched its first networking event in Downtown Los Angeles, California. Held on the heels of Women in Construction Week and during Women’s History Month this past March, the networking event provided an opportunity for the participating professional organizations and members to connect as a larger group and expand their voices, work to increase opportunities for principal positions in their industries, and develop mutually beneficial relationships.
In keeping with the women working together theme, the event featured a selection of wine procured and made by women winemakers from Vinovore, as well as a special performance by Spags, an electric female violinist who is a master at creatively merging the classical violin with modern music. Approximately 170 people attended the sold-out event and 21 AEC-industry companies provided financial support. Due to the industry’s level of interest, the WWT steering committee is planning another get-together next year and will continue to look for regular opportunities to network with one another.
Furthermore, the WiA will provide a forum to advance our mission for promoting allyship of women in the building industry during our annual AIA Powerful9 Conference on October 7, 2022, in Los Angeles. Together, our work builds stronger foundations and pipelines for women in the AEC field, documenting women’s representation, and paving the path forward to define what success looks like for women architects, engineers, and contractors.