Women in Bim – progress to date

Rebecca de Cicco, director of BIM consultancy Digital Node, set up Women in BIM in 2012. We ask her how it’s going.

It’s nearly nine months since the Women in BIM database was launched, what has been the response?

It’s been incredibly positive and we are seeing women from all over the world embrace and acknowledge the group.

We are also seeing that there are many women in different regions of the world who want to be connected and this supports the overall intention of the database: to ensure we are connecting people globally.

How many members are there on the database?

We are currently at almost 300 members and growing steadily. The database will be linked to a member’s portal, which is currently in development, to ensure that members receive regular communication regarding their involvement and added benefits.

We’d like to have a strong presence across all regions (currently the UK is the largest number, due to the core team residing in the UK). 

Has the group met its objectives, what are the big successes and where is the work still to be done?

WiB is a not-for-profit community group. The objectives are to draw women together to support our three main priorities: encouraging and supporting each other, advancing and retaining and to attract and promote women in the industry. I certainly believe that we are meeting this objective.

The main success has been the visibility of the group globally with many of our members (including myself) being based in other regions of the world.

In the industry generally is BIM proving a good way to get more women working in construction and architecture?

I believe that we as a group are generally trying to drive this (within our workstream Attract and Promote), as well as supporting organisations such as Design, Engineer, Construct and the BIM Academic forum. However, there is still much work to be done. The research we have reviewed suggests that the issue is not drawing women into construction-related careers, it is more about retaining these women as they move into senior roles.

When it comes to BIM there is much research that suggests collaborative and open teams are supported via diverse members, but this can only be supported if we start to draw in Women in BIM-related roles.

The BIM arena is still evolving and there must be more effort to ensure that current roles and responsibilities are clear on BIM projects. We are also supporting this by reviewing the data in the database to see where career titles are evolving and changing and what this means to an evolving industry.

Given its global network, is there any particular region where the big ideas are coming from?

Our core team resides in the UK but we do require more support on a global front. We are securing regional leads in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

There are many of us who support the incentive due to the passionate nature of who we are as individuals. The core team is made up of people who have a passion to grow and support Women in BIM-related roles. This is where it all began me for me and I still feel very strongly about this.

I think that due to our strong governmental approach to BIM and digital process, the UK is certainly ahead, yet there are other isolated regions that are working in exciting ways.

Any future plans you could share with us? 

Currently we are tying together the membership and member benefits area. In progress is our intention to build a closed online community where we, as women, can share ideas, support each other and work together to grow the numbers of women globally in BIM-related roles.

The research we have reviewed suggests that the issue is not drawing women into construction-related careers, it is more about retaining these women as they move into senior roles.– Rebecca de Cicco

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