The SEAONC Structural Engineering Engagement and Equity (SE3) Committee hosted its first symposium entitled LISTEN, ASSESS, CHANGE on January 26 at SPUR in San Francisco, and it was an amazing success! The sold out event hosted 120 attendees who came to learn about the 2016 SE3 study and listen to the experiences and inspiring ideas of a wide variety of professionals who were featured as speakers and panelists. Here's a recap of the events and discussions.
Maryann Phipps started the day with a rousing and inspiring keynote speech where she discussed her love of the structural engineering profession and also noted some personal experiences that showed that there is room for improvement by all.
Rose McClure and Natalie Tse, the committee’s co-founders, then presented the first session, entitled LISTEN, in which they discussed the 2016 SE3 study’s findings and presented the committee’s resulting list of best practices.
The first panel discussion, ASSESS, was moderated by Angie Sommer, who led the panelists—Emily Guglielmo, Janiele Maffei, Joel Villamil, and Taryn Williams—in a deeply personal discussion of their experiences in the profession, including topics such as mentorship, management/staff disconnect, workplace flexibility, and the role of work-life balance.
Julia Mandell then presented a short narrative of the mission and findings of the AIASF’s Equity by Design Committee, the organization that partially inspired the creation of SE3.
The final panel discussion, CHANGE, was moderated by Nick Sherrow-Groves, who led the panelists—Emily Loper, Krista Looza, and Saskia Dennis-van Dijl—in a discussion regarding ideas and policies to improve engagement and gender equity that they have witnessed or helped enact in their career, including how to reduce bias in the promotions process and San Francisco’s new parental leave legislation.
Dick Dryer, SEAONC president, provided a wrap-up to the day before Ayse Hortacsu, the event’s gracious emcee, closed the afternoon with a few thoughtful words.
After the presentations were finished, a networking happy hour took place on the ground floor of the SPUR facility, where attendees mingled, chatted, and enjoyed snack and drinks together. The vibe was electric as we celebrated the success of the day together and excitedly discussed the ideas spurred by the day's discussions.
Thank you to our incredible speakers who made the event inspiring, relevant, and valuable to the attendees and the profession as a whole. We really appreciate all the time you took in preparing for this event and in formulating thoughtful, interesting responses to the questions that were posed. Thank you also to the individuals and companies who provided funding in the form of sponsorship for this event and the committee’s continuing work; this support is extremely important and the committee extends its humble gratitude.
As we wind down from our first symposium, our committee wants to remind everyone that the work of the SE3 Committee is not done! We have a lot of work to do to continue the discussion and enact real change regarding engagement and gender equity in the structural engineering profession.
If you're curious as to what the SE3 committee has in store for the near future, upcoming projects include (but are not limited to):
The SEAONC SE3 Committee