Women in BIM - The right movement at the right time

It’s been a busy week in the world of BIM. The Farmer Review being published telling construction to modernise or die, another loose promise that the Level 2 guidance documents are imminent, the UK BIM Alliance launch, and the BIM conference silly season kicking into gear. However, it was the Women In BIM initiative that caught my imagination the most.

Anyone who’s met me may have made at least two observations;

  1. I fundamentally believe BIM has the ability to vastly change our construction industry for the better. I wear this opinion on my sleeve and have spent years telling anyone who’ll listen.

  2. I am a balding white man in my thirties, much like the bulk of the BIM scene.

We’re not all the same of course, but take a minute to look around you at the next BIM conference or BIM coordination meeting; it’s hardly the ideal sample for a Family Fortunes survey. I’m not at ICE BIM today, but I’m following the action on Twitter and the photos aren’t contradicting me.

Although the BIM demographic doesn’t suffer from the same issues as our on-site colleagues, the issue is we are construction industry people who have taken BIM to our hearts rather than people attracted to a career in BIM from elsewhere. Because of this the BIM scene has unfortunately inherited a diversity issue, even though it has been diluted by some excellent women taking the BIM bull by the horns and claiming senior BIM roles across construction.

BIM as a career path is still young enough to be agile in its development, and offers us an opportunity to create a vibrant and diversity microcosm which cuts across the whole industry. BIM is not just a catalyst for change in the way we deliver projects; it can also be a catalyst for the way we employ, train and develop our workforce. Opportunities like this are what get me out of bed every morning for another day as a BIM guy; it’s a fascinating time. This is why I was so excited this week to see the Women In BIM initiative not only announce itself on the scene with a bang all over social media and BIM press, but do so with an approach that screamed professionalism and outright bimminess.

So, how do a group of women who have chosen a career path in BIM work together to bring more women along with them? I love that their answer is focussed on data gathering, a new data base, data analysis and global facing infographics, as well as frameworks, social media networking and industry engagement. This is just so good compared to the tried and tired ‘raising awareness’ approach of creating noise and not much else.

The issue of diversity in construction is something I’ve blogged about before and didn’t receive much attention. So I’m delighted that Women In BIM have raised the bar. The additional value of the initiative hit me earlier this week when I had the pleasure of interviewing a confident young women with the BIM skills and attitude to succeed, and I was glad to be able to point her towards a newly formed group that could genuinely help her career.

Women In BIM isn’t just the right movement at the right time, but it’s going about things the right way, which is an organised and digital way. Kudos to all involved, I look forward to hearing more from you and doing what I can to help promote your good work.

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Niven & BIM Stategy