As I explored different career options I was immediately drawn to the AEC industry: it was the perfect mix of pragmatism and art. It requires a balance of holistic problem solving, creative expression and intuition. I enrolled in Architecture school to pursue my bachelor’s degree. I then joined a large multi-national architecture firm in Dubai where I had the opportunity to work on high-profile hospitality and residential projects. My journey took me to NYC to pursue a master’s degree, which opened up further opportunities. I worked on high-end residential projects with Leslie Gill and joined Turner Construction as an architectural and exterior wall design specialist.

Women’s representation has substantially increased in our industry, however, it’s also clear that we’re still underrepresented in leadership positions and high impact projects. There are definitely multiple reasons for this, but one factor, which I’ve experienced myself, are biases and a lack of trust compared to male peers. It always seemed to me that male colleagues were given opportunities based on potential while women were expected to bring substantial track record and experience to earn the same opportunities. And that is why having advocates in the workplace is so important!

I think women bring a different level of social and environmental stewardship to our industry.  I see it at my current company, where the majority of endeavors related to community, sustainability and social/ governance are led by women. They are willing to drive change and take on these initiatives because they believe in a more inclusive, equitable future.

I also find women to be great mediators and listeners at the table, which can be really valuable on complex projects with multiple stakeholders.

My advice to women just entering the industry would be to cultivate a beginner’s mindset and embrace lifelong learning. Seeking out different opinions and acknowledging alternative viewpoints always helped come up with better and more creative solutions to problems.

Take risks and accept new challenges even when not 100 percent sure of the outcomes. As uncomfortable as they may be initially, these opportunities end up being the ones from which I learnt the most.

Building Enclosure Celebrates International Women's Day

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Kimberly Hellekson Rebecca Thomas Kimberly Hellekson Kim McDonald Janice Sanada Ashley Goldberg Marivette Rodriguez Gayle DeBruyn Alana (Konefal) Lovegren Anna Dockery Stephanie Oestreich Sara Karim