by Rebecca De Cicco, Global Chair and Founder of Women in BIM

Digital impacts everything we do from the homes we live into the roads we travel on, to the places we work in.

The construction industry is, and continues to, transform itself in ways unimaginable and we know that the digitisation of the built environment will help us achieve greater results from the way we design, build and operate— maintaining and repurposing the assets all around us.

The rise of new technologies such as Digital Twins and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are converging the physical and digital worlds in the form of smart cities and connected assets. This presents huge opportunities for tackling pressing global challenges such as the climate crisis, productivity and rapid urbanization.

The challenge we face as an industry is the skill and capability to enable these activities and building information modelling (BIM) and digital engineering processes are just one part of how we make this happen.

WIB wasn’t created to address all of these challenges but rather to enable a diverse and wider reach for women in the built environment to achieve goals to engage with this as there are still major challenges with three areas:

  1. Encouraging young women to enter careers in the digital built environment.
  2. To encourage and support women who are currently employed in these roles to pivot into digital roles.
  3. To identify and celebrate role models to enable women to enter leadership roles in digital.

All of our core values at WIB are further underpinned by the United Nation’s sustainable development goals where global enforcement through the Member States have recognised the global importance of gender equality.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls stated that the achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities. Women and girls must enjoy equal access to quality education, economic resources and political participation as well as equal opportunities with men and boys for employment, leadership and decision-making at all levels.

In our early years our aim was to connect and explore opportunities for building relationships and harnessing our network to support key projects. Which enforced our core themes. Our first five years built our network and position across the built environment sector in the UK with the next five-year harnessing growth on a global level to address the gender imbalance across the built environment as well as support nurture and grow our skills to be able to share policy processes technologies and innovation in a way not seen before across the built environment.

Our global network continues to expand in regions we feel are incredibly important for growth with even fewer women in these roles such as Asia and the Middle East.

We engage and identify opportunities to go further by extending our work into secondary schools and education networks to break the barriers between what young girls feel they should do versus what we know they can achieve.

Much of our research suggests that the decisions for career pathways for young women are determined by the time they reach high school, so we know connecting with secondary schooling is just as important to us as connecting with industry.

The dilemma we are finding is also identifying the roles and subsequent remuneration to address the global gender pay gap. A vision we have is that policing equal pay per digital roles across our organisations will target this precise problem because let’s face it women generally will not highlight their worth as much as they should do. A key project for us is a research initiative focusing on this exact topic.

As a global community policy is also at the forefront of our work. Compliance toward industry standardisation to effectively be able to trade insight lessons learnt and knowledge is a huge driver and assessing the maturity of compliance or policy toward these standards us a topic many of our Members are interested in investigating.

For me personally, I feel humbled and astounded by just how far we’ve come and continue to go. Supporting growing educating innovating and connecting is what we set out to achieve

What does the next 10 years hold? Unfortunately, as a result of the global pandemic we haven’t moved ahead in addressing the global challenge of gender equality but for me I will continue to strive forward to grow our network to support industry as this was my calling and I’m proud to say I’m a true woman in BIM.