Women in Construction Week: Leadership Effecting Measurable Change

A panel hosted by the LA chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction explores gender equality in the AEC industry
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The Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction celebrated Women in Construction Week 2018 with an incredible panel discussion in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. In addition to several events planned for the week, this event featured six locally based power players in various roles across industry, who offered their perspectives on gender equality in the AEC industry.

Speakers on the panel:

  • Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, NOMA, IIDA, LEED AP, Director of Global Diversity, Perkins + Will
  • Anne-Marie Otey, Editorial Director, LA|OC, Building and Construction Trades Council
  • June Susilo, P.E. Sr. Program Director, Program Management, LA Metro
  • Shaabini Alford, LEED AP, VP Project Management and Design Build, Murray Company
  • Marla Bleavins, Deputy Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, Port of Los Angeles
  • Sonya Kay Blake, Director of Community Business, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development

Expertly curated and hosted by PCL manager of diversity and inclusion Priscilla Chavez, the panel did not disappoint. “Today is about women lifting up other women,” she said before a sold-out crowd in the Tom Bradley Tower Room of City Hall. The message of solidarity was echoed by Alliance Building and Construction Services Project Manager, Jackie Rivera: “Every woman here can turn on the light and open the door for another sister.” Being able to rely on a peer network is already an uphill climb for women in construction and creating opportunities for other women is just one of the commitments of the NAWIC organization. Rivera’s statement resonates with good reason, too, as according to the Department of Labor, women working in construction numbered 1.3% of the entire US workforce in 2015. In 2016, there were more than 9.38 million men in construction, with just 939,000 women in construction. Gabrielle Bullock pointed out similar discrepancies within architecture as well. An LA Times op-ed from 2016 lists the architecture industry of being comprised with only 18% as licensed practitioners, with full-time female architects also making 20% less salary than their male counterparts.

Despite the obstacles women face within AEC, the theme for the day, “Leadership Effecting Measurable Change,” is an actionable call to those working in industry—both male and female—to remain dedicated to the mission of gender equality and fair treatment. Heather Repenning, VP Department of Public Works, Board of Public Works, summed up her feelings regarding a better representation within her organization. “We build a lot of projects and we provide a lot of services which are an investment into the cities. The people that work for us should look like Los Angeles.”

If you are interested in the LA chapter of NAWIC’s events for Women in Construction Week 2018, or simply want to learn more about this groundbreaking organization, you can find more information here.