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In Conversation. EP4 - 18 June 2020

The aim was to bring women in BIM together to talk about the challenges they face in a predominantly masculine industry. A pertinent point was raised halfway through the conversation on why women still need to have these conversations instead of just talking about the work. It was an important question that highlighted this tension women face - the responsibility to pave the way for the young women who follow while still excelling in their chosen fields.

"Conversations around difficult subjects, often times happen behind closed doors, in whispers and even frustration. What we did here was so powerful, conversations highlighting challenges faced by women, in such a productive way. Raising awareness and highlighting that as women, possibly struggling to have our voices heard in business, we are not alone, we are allies. Action: Women should pave the way for other women, by being the change we want to see – empowering one another and building each other up. Challenge: Our male counterparts who currently stand by us, should speak up also – creating a ripple effect, so that all men are ready to receive empowered women.

To what end? So that one day, being a woman in BIM and business will be par for the course, typical and appreciated by all. That one day, as opposed to speaking about the difficulties of being a woman in BIM, we can grapple with the challenges of the job – and passionately discuss what brought us here in the first place and what keeps us going."

- Dewlene Africa

Programs to Actively address inherent bias at the workplace:

The Industry needs more diversity and women in positions of power. I believe our male counterparts and the HR departments of different organizations need programs to address inherent bias. The work place is a melting pot of people of different cultures, ideologies, upbringing and from different communities. If we don’t intentionally address the biases we bring into the workplace, we subconsciously act prejudicially towards people that look, sound and act different from us, thereby undervaluing, stiffing their progress and neglecting their brilliance and value add, because they don’t come in the packaging of ‘your brand of what intelligence and brilliance’ should look like. Some women have been passively-aggressively bullied into losing their voices, labelled as ‘bossy, too much, intimidating, aggressive etc.’ because of inherent biases and feeling threatened by someone who looks different from you. This could lead to brain drain, the loss of talent of brilliant women leaving the industry, disengagement etc. basically organizations and the industry losing out on the value add of Women, and the true power that comes from diversity.

- Ginika E. Egwuonwu

"Life is short. When you struggle to have your voice heard in the boardroom, start your own business, own the boardroom and direct the conversation!"

- Kirstin Kusel, founder and professional architect, directing the conversation since 2005.

"Over the last 10 years I’ve seen an increase in females in the Building and BIM environment but sadly not many in leadership roles. I believe many of us still face challenges working in a male-dominated industry.  Challenges that are perhaps not unique to our industry. We often have to speak up more than our male colleagues to have our opinions and thoughts heard and acknowledged and we face inherent biases on a regular basis.

We need to educate our young woman about their career options and how to address the challenges they might face.  As a group of women in BIM we need to offer mentorship & guidance to our peers and next generation.

Whilst it’s important for us to talk about our challenges we also need to continue contributing to raising the BIM tide."

- Jani Viljoen

For this very important conversation Dewlene Africa, Jani Viljoen, Shameemah Davids, Janine Strachan, Ginika Egwuonwu, Alyssa Jairus and Kirstin Kusel shared their powerful voices and insights. Jay Moolman moderated the conversation.



If you would like to contribute to any of our upcoming podcasts or even suggest new topics for conversation, please get in touch with the Angela at BIMCommUNITYAfrica@outlook.com

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