Jane Duncan unveils #SeeMeJoinMe plan at Building-backed event

Jane Duncan, president elect of the RIBA, has announced plans for a global social media campaign to encourage women into construction careers.

She is in talks with other industry bodies around the world including the RICS and the US and Australian architects’ institutes.

The campaign, which will coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8, is intended to show young women, parents and teachers that careers in construction are not off-limits to girls.

It will provide thousands of female role models, probably by encouraging women working in construction to post images of themselves on social media with the slogan #SeeMeJoinMe.

Duncan, who takes over as president of the RIBA in September, announced the idea at a Chicks with Bricks networking event for women in construction held at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday night.

“I was sounding people out to see if there was any traction,” she said. “I got a resounding whoop of support so I’m now I’m going to plot the details. The idea is simply to make a bit of noise in the construction industry around the world and make women a bit more visible.”

Just 12% of people working in UK construction are women. The Chicks with Bricks event, which was supported by Buidling and its sister title BD, was attended by 150 women and 16 men.

This was a physical representation in reverse of the male:female ratio in the industry, said network founder Holly Porter, a director of Surface to Air Architects.

Several of the men spoke of their discomfort and said it would be good for more of their male colleagues to experience being outnumbered.

Duncan praised the event’s other speakers, who included education secretary Nicky Morgan and former equalities minister Meg Mullen, as “fantastic role models”.

But she said: “I have a concern that we are preaching to the converted. The difficulties we face are outside this room.

“We have a fantastic industry but the only problem is keeping women there. In architecture, women disappear into almost a black hole by the time they are at child-bearing age.

“A significant part of our industry has an ostrich approach to diversity. The world is changing around us but this industry is not changing fast enough and it will die if we don’t help it.”