Beverly WIllis - Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation
Beverly Willis is an architect and visionary. After 50 years in practice, she founded the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF.org) whose mission is to expand knowledge of women’s contributions (engineering, architecture, technology) to our built environment. By uncovering the lost histories and preserving the current legacies of these women, they become, for the first time ever, part of history. Previous public service includes: executive committee, National Academy of Science's Board on Infrastructure and Constructed Environment; chair, Federal Facility Council;USdelegate, United Nations Conference on Habitat I; and Founding Trustee,National Building Museum,Washington, DC.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
As an architect with an engineering background, I live every day with the knowledge that while ‘women,’ as the saying goes, ‘hold up half of the sky,’ in architecture, women only comprise 18% of the profession and 8% in engineering. Realize as you walk down the street in your town that most of what you see—the places where we live, work, study and play—have been designed almost exclusively by men. Both men and women enter the STEM professions with a passion to make our built world a better place to live. However, women need more opportunities to design and the world needs more women designers.
The STEM disciplines underpin architecture, engineering and building practices. Without STEM knowledge, our buildings, roads, trains, airports, bridges, indeed the whole infrastructure of cities and towns, cannot be built to meet the needs and challenges of our daily lives. Just as important, theUScannot compete with other nations without STEM knowledge—an economic impact that everyUScitizen will feel in their pocket book. It is urgent that theUSattracts more women to these disciplines and motivates them to stay, as the dropout rate is an alarming 70%, ten years after graduation.
Of what one initiative are you most proud?
BWAF is a national research and educational not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization working to change the culture of the building industry so that women’s work, whether in contemporary practices or within historical narratives, is acknowledged, respected, and valued. BWAF achieves its mission by documenting women’s work, educating the public, and transforming industry practice through collaborations with museums, professional organizations and other groups in the areas of architecture, design, engineering, technology, real estate, and construction.
In 2010 the Foundation inaugurated the Industry Leaders Roundtable, a consortium of the world’s largest global leaders in engineering, architecture and building, providing a platform for the introduction of new ideas in management, technology, recruitment, metrics and innovation.
A global transformation is changing STEM disciplines. Firms can become more competitive after they integrate women into the transformed workplace, develop women leaders, and understand women as clients. BWAF created the Industry Roundtable to share cutting edge research, ideas and strategies as well as to advance women leaders. This annual program brings together a select group of leaders from some of the world’s largest architecture, engineering, and construction firms (whose combined employees total over 100,000 of whom only 15-20,000 are women).
Which woman leader do you most admire, and why.
I greatly admire Sheryl Sandberg because she is a 21st century workingwoman role model, a global leader in technology, and for her strong advocacy for the advancement of women’s leadership. Sandberg is also a mother of two. Currently COO for Facebook, she possesses an impressive industry background with experience at Google, as its Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations. She also was involved in launching Google's philanthropic arm Google.org. Prior, she worked with the US Department of Treasury, as Chief of Staff. In 2012, she was named by Time magazine one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Senior leaders need knowledge of new management systems and cutting edge technology to effectively support and advance STEM.