Moving towards gender equity in built environment

Woman architect
Transformation: Action on Equity will reflect on the impact and effect of recent action on gender equity.

Gender equity in the built environment professions – including architecture, design and construction – will come under the spotlight as more than 30 Australian and international speakers converge at the University of Melbourne this week.

Held from 14-15 November, Melbourne School of Design’s Transformations: Actions on Equity symposium will focus on the progress made so far to ensure an equitable profession, and what needs to be done in the future.

Researchers and professionals will challenge the way we think about gender in the built environment professions and explore how they are actively creating new futures for these professions and the communities they serve.

Symposium convener and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning Julie Willis said the focus of the event was on making real positive change.

“It’s about action. It’s about people who are taking real-world actions to change the professions and built environment for the better, to make them more equitable ,” Professor Willis said.

“It’s about more than theorising, more than thinking about it and planning, it’s about looking around the globe and finding examples of what’s being done, identifying the barriers women and people from diverse backgrounds face and doing something to make change.

“It could be as simple as building ramps to make access possible for someone with a disability, or flexible working options for parents working in the industry, or something totally new, innovative and transformative.”

The two-day program comprises discussions investigating key modes of action: leadership through policy; reshaping the workplace ; and rewriting history . It also initiates conversations about mental wellbeing, non-binary understandings of gender, and intersections of gender and Indigeneity in relation to built environment professions.

Speakers include trailblazing scholars and activists such as Professor Sharon Egretta Sutton, the first African American woman appointed president of the US National Architectural Accrediting Board, and Dr Jos Boys, co-founder of the Matrix feminist collective and The DisOrdinary Architecture Project.

Symposium co-convener Justine Clark of Parlour said she was excited about the varied expertise converging at Transformations, bringing with it the potential to inspire new knowledge and action.

“We have the opportunity to learn from actions all over the world that overlap and support each other – grassroots activism, institutional change, remaking the workplace and rewriting our histories ,” she said.

“Only when our professions are equitable, diverse and inclusive can they contribute to our societies at full capacity.”

Transformations will encourage individuals, groups, companies and institutions to reflect on what they can do to make change and how they can make that change.

Professor Willis explores the current state of gender equity in the built environment professions on Pursuit.

Symposium conveners Professor Julie Willis and Justine Clark are available for interview, as well as some other speakers.

Transformations: Action on Equity, Glyn Davis Building, the University of Melbourne, 14–15 November, is a partnership between the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, and Parlour: women, equity, architecture.

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