This year, The American Institute of Architects Women’s Leadership Summit (AIWLS) attracted over 400 women participants. The event has been held five times since it was born by the Women’s Principals Group of the Boston Society of Architects. The need to learn from accomplished women in the architectural industry was the main contributor that pushed the group into organizing the conference.
The theme of 2017 AIWLS was centered on promoting equity, inclusion and diversity of women in the profession. Women leaders shared their experiences while serving different leadership roles. Rosa Sheng, the founding chair of Equity by Design, who also doubles up as a senior associate with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and the president of AIA San Francisco’s board of directors, delivered a high note welcome address.
In her remarks, Sheng addressed various areas that were pertinent to the theme of the conference. She started off by highlighting the need for honest discussions, which are important in promoting equity in the profession. She further shared the findings of 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey, which indicates that many architects are engrossed in their professional pursuits at the expense of their welfare. Finally, Sheng talked about the use of stories of successful women leaders to nature the future leaders.
Another keynote speaker at the conference was Susan L. Colantuono, the CEO of Leading Women. She urged women to discover their leadership potentials, which can be used to drive organizations forward. Beverly Willis, who has been agitating for bridging the inequity gap in the building industry for over 55 years, also attended the conference. She said that the increasing number of attendees of the conference and the surge in women holding senior positions in various firms is an indication that significant strides have been made in addressing inequity in the building profession.
For Emily Grandstaff-Rice, who serves as a senior associate at Arrowstreet, more work has to be done in measuring the impact of the summit on attendees. The next conference will take place in 2019.
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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) was inaugurated in 1857 as a professional body for architects in the USA, which works collaboratively with other key players in building and design to ensure smooth operation of the building industry. The head office of AIA is located in Washington, D.C., and it boasts over 90,000 members who benefit from the body regarding government advocacy, education and improved public image. All this is aimed at attaining the highest level of professional standards in the building industry.
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