Annie Marston, IBPSA-USA: promoting equality and diversity in construction
IBPSA-USA recently established a new committee dedicated to equality and diversity. Dr. Annie Marston of Baumann Consulting, the new committee chair, has been active in IBPSA for the last 5 years and a member of the IBPSA-USA board since 2015. Her interview on the new committee was published in the most recent IBPSA newsletter. Below is an excerpt of her interview.
Christina J Hopfe (CJH): Can you tell us something about IBPSA-USA’s new equality group: who is it aimed at? How did it begin/ who had the idea? What is the correct name of the group and its purpose?
Annie Marston (AM): The group is called the IBPSA-USA Equality Committee and our mission statement is to encourage and retain women and minorities in the simulation community. The committee now has 9 members of all genders and ethnicities. The idea evolved from a discussion I had with the IBPSA-USA board when a talented engineer and modeler in her early 30s had spoken to me about leaving her job and doing something completely different. It wasn’t because she didn’t enjoy the work; it was because she found the office politics too exhausting. This really resonated with me: I was coming off a hard few weeks myself and was beginning to wonder whether the extra effort was worth the love of the work.
So this is when I started the conversation. I wanted not only to retain talented people within our community but to make sure that the next generation was more mixed – that it was easier for them to pass through their careers without being the only ones in the room, without feeling like another place might suit them better. The more I talk about this the more I see it isn’t only women that are fighting to stay in the community; many talented people mid-way in their career are feeling lost and under-appreciated in their roles, especially the practitioners who deal with the wider construction industry day to day. I am hoping that we can all learn and help to keep the talent as well as encouraging new talent into our industry without having to worry about gender or ethnicity.
CJH: What are your plans (short term and long term) to develop greater equality in the industry?
AM: This year we have several goals:
- Hold a Q&A session at the ASHRAE and IBPSA-USA Simbuild 2016 conference to introduce ourselves and begin the conversation
- Create a web page on the IBPSA-USA site, which will include some profiles of female and minority simulation professionals
- Do a market survey to collect data about our industry and its make up and display this on the website
- Set up a mentoring program
- The committee itself is going to become more visible on forums answering questions, hopefully to encourage others to do the same
- Have some kind of Q & A section on the website to answer people’s questions if they are having specific issues, to help support them
- These are our short term goals; we will see what works and what doesn’t. Next year I think we will focus more on getting talent into the industry and ways we can do this.
For the full version, please read the newest edition of the IBPSA newsletter here.
If you have questions about the IBPSA Equalities Committee, energy modeling, or her work at Baumann, please reach out to Dr. Annie Marston directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.