C+S March 2023 Vol. 9 Issue 3 (web)

The 2023 ElevateHER Symposium and Kickoff Event took place on Feb - ruary 15th-17th in the sun-drenched Parker Ballroom in Dallas, Texas. Located in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood, this historic structure was designed by William Sidney Pittman who was the state’s first practicing Black architect. A spot for Dallas nightlife in the early 20th century, the Parker Ballroom at the Kimpton Pittman hotel once rang loud with some of America’s most influential musicians at the turn of the 20th century. More than a century later, those same halls rang not with the croon - ing of musicians but with the voices of women and men seeking to positively influence change in the AEC industry. Over the course of the three-day event, new cohort members were immersed in interactive workshops and speeches from AEC industry professionals. By the end of the event, these new cohort members would find community and shared passions, forming into teams that would set out to change the AEC industry for the better. The 2023 ElevateHER Cohort’s first experience in the program was framed by inspiring voices from almost every corner of the AEC industry. The first keynote speaker–Bolanle Williams-Olley–set the stage for the week’s event, urging those in the room to think boldly about themselves and their careers. Bolanle Williams-Olley, who is Mancini Duffy’s CFO and co-owner, spoke from experience, sharing the events that shaped her life and career. The first keynote speaker fielded questions from the audience, asking the assembled audience of new cohort members, speakers, and current ElevateHER members what their biggest barrier is. Their responses–pay, gender bias, lack of representation–would frame not only the rest of the first keynote speech, but the conversations that would take place and the plans that would ultimately be made. Williams-Olley used the Broken Rung metaphor to describe the cul - mination of these experiences. These experiences are also reflected in current statistics which indicate for every 100 men promoted only 87 women are promoted and 82 women of color. Williams-Olley be - lieves that one of the first steps towards mending this broken rung is understanding that its foundation of a linear career path is not always possible or desirable. In reimagining the broken rung, Williams-Olley believes that the missing space can be filled with an interconnected web of community and support. With this image she urged the crowd to think about the webs of community in which they already exist, ending on a call to think boldly about their own potential as well as the potential of other women in their communities. Fueling Change through Community: A Look Inside ElevateHER 2023 By Luke Carothers

The second keynote speaker was Colleen Martindale, who is Precon - struction Director at McCarthy. Martindale surveyed the room of AEC industry’s progress as it relates to other industries, sketching out a few unique characteristics of the industry that may be at the heart of some of the room’s shared frustrations. Unlike many other industries, the AEC industry has developed a transactional- and project-based culture that, by its nature, sometimes pits architects, engineers, and construction professionals against each other. Martindale used these characteristics as a vehicle for both assessing various methods of DEI that are already happening and methods that will be developed moving forward, posing questions about the role of men in women-forward initiatives. Amidst the background of these discussions, Martindale introduced the narrative of her own experience, sharing critical moments throughout her career that shaped her outlook and perspective on the challenges faced by women in the AEC industry. Sharing both her experiences succeeding in a traditionally male-dominated field and as a musician and rockstar, Martindale stressed the importance of being your authen - tic self. Martindale shared a few statistics with the room that indicated people who were able to be more authentic at work reported higher job satisfaction. On top of higher job satisfaction, Martindale used her own experience to extend the concept of authenticity to building and strengthening relationships and communities. Inevitably, being your authentic self requires vulnerability, but Martindale closed her speech


March 2023 csengineermag.com

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