by Nicol La Cumbre-Gibbs, Associate, Educational Resources
The first Women’s Day observed in the US occurred in 1908, right here in New York City. Since then, progress for women’s rights has undoubtedly been made, and we have seen an overall increase in the number of women obtaining STEM degrees and pursuing related careers. In 1958, just 1% of registered architects were women, and that number has grown by thousands since.
While that number has risen, today, 17% of registered architects are women – a number still far from representative of our population. The number becomes more sobering when considering the representation of women of color, with Black women only constituting .3% of registered architects in the US. Similarly, 32% of environmental engineers and 22% of jobs in the energy field are held by women. There is an industry need for diverse and women-led action.
“In some cases, I have shown up to projects and people were surprised to see me, they said they were expecting "an engineer". I am the engineer! I don't let other people's perceptions bother me. I am happy to help change their perspective on what an engineer "should" look like. It's not about what you have accomplished, it's about how you got to that accomplishment, what you learned along the way, the mistakes you made and who was by your side.
Given these largely male-dominated industries, the Women in Sustainability & Energy (WISE) series is proud to highlight exceptional women in these fields, and provide an inclusive platform for everyone to learn, regardless of gender identity. In its 8-year history, 60+ women speakers joined the WISE community to share their perspectives and knowledge in the environmental field. WISE invites all to continue creating impact and recognizes that more work must be done to ensure our industries are diverse and inclusive.
“We have very aggressive climate goals. We will only be able to achieve them by building a collaborative workforce, which should consist of women, BIPOC folks, and people most affected by climate change. As a female engineer, I am responsible for sharing my knowledge and the lessons I've learned with a growing generation of female and BIPOC engineers tackling climate change.
“I was just starting to build my career when I worked at the Building Energy Exchange and wanted to explore the many pathways I could take within this industry. I often found myself learning from attendees at our events on what, how, and why they do the work they do. That’s the foundation of WISE that Ellen and I sought to build. We wanted to create a space to learn from individuals who have done incredible work, especially women who have paved the way to success with grit while empowering others to do the same.
On March 30th, 2023, WISE hosts a community discussion and networking event with the series’ founders. Join us as we honor the progress we have made and more to come.
RSVP for WISE: Women’s History Month, Where Are We Now?, March 30, 6 – 7pm, at the Exchange