Birmingham Architecture and Design Women’s Network, an initiative set up in 2020 by a group of BCU postgraduate students, aims to support and connect women and non-binary students across the architecture and design industries.
Committee Chair, Tegan Robinson-Morris, commented on the reasons for creating the network: “After being in practice before returning to university for our Masters, it became clear to us that there was a lack of support in relation to gender discrimination and sexual harassment. We felt the need for a student-led support network where we can offer a helping hand or advice for young architecture and design students as they begin their career.”
Alongside Tegan, the BAD Network committee is comprised of fellow BCU postgraduate students Charlotte Arnold, Emma Jones, Ananya Jain, and Michelle Gartside. Representing courses from across Birmingham School of Architecture and Design’s portfolio, the team organise regular meetings for members to catch up and share their experiences of university and working life.
In addition to this, the network aims to tackle the most pressing concerns facing female and non-binary students, as Tegan explains: “Most recently we have been holding calls surrounding campus safety and sexual harassment, having open discussions and brainstorming possible changes which could be made within the university and campus to ensure it’s a safe place.”
Last month, BAD Women’s Network worked alongside staff from the Birmingham School of Architecture to coordinate virtual activity to mark International Women’s Day. This included an art competition with the theme of ‘women who inspire you’, and a Wall of Inspiration which celebrated the work and achievements staff and students from across the school. The team also compiled their top picks of events in the industry including a panel discussion by Birmingham Architectural Association where Chairwoman Tegan Robinson-Morris was on the selected panel, and The W Awards, a prestigious awards ceremony for women in Architecture, including the presentation of the Jane Drew Award.
Huma Mahmood, member of BAD Women’s Network and MArch Architecture student at BCU, was featured on the Wall of Inspiration. Huma commented: “It is great to see women from similar and different backgrounds raised onto platforms where we can hear about their hardships and highlights. Giving a voice to women in a very male dominated design industry allows us to be seen, heard and celebrated for what we can bring to architecture and design. I think it’s also great in terms of seeing other role models to look up to, realising that you can also reach or be supported by fellow designers to achieve a multitude of possibilities.”
Since its launch, the network is gaining members and expanding its reach, and has some exciting plans for the future, which Tegan outlines: “Following the success of the IWD Competition, we would love to host more competitions – perhaps in relation to Safety in the City, or Sustainability. We also want to open discussions to male students so they can learn how to be an effective ally in situations of inequality. The school has also launched the Parity Platform which acts as an umbrella for a collective of other student-led groups, such as Decolonise Architecture, which tackles institutional racism within architecture and education. In the future it would be great to have collaborative discussions with them and work together on events surrounding race and gender.”