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WiD at ABX

Focused around a theme, the day starts with a keynote breakfast which frames the discussion and brings together diverse viewpoints on the topic. The rest of the day offers workshops that dig deeper into the issues, the presentation of the “Women in Design Award of Excellence” at a celebratory lunch, and a social hour on the expo floor. The symposium offers WiD an outlet to broadcast its values to the wider Boston community with quality programming, while giving a platform to the great women designers and work within our community.

In efforts to engage the community, WiD has developed a scholarship program which allows students and professionals to attend the symposium. Paid for by sponsors and selected by the ABX Sub-Committee, it invites professionals to join the conversation who might otherwise would not be able to attend. Additionally, all fundraising beyond the symposium expenses are donated to Rosie’s Place, a local women’s shelter.

The ABX Sub-Committee plans and organizes the entire day: defining the topic, developing the call-for-proposals, selecting the workshops, organizing the keynote and selecting its speakers, selecting scholarship recipients, soliciting sponsorships for the symposium, and coordinating the day’s events with the BSA and the WiD Awards Sub-Committee.

Past topics

2019: Empathic Design: Crafting Spaces for People
2018: From the Ground Up, Grassroots Initiatives
2017: Envisioning the Future
2016: In the Public’s Interest
2015: Research Innovate Design
2014: Creative Entrepreneurship
2013: The Value of Design
2012: Software Integration in Practice
2010: Design (R)Evolution

Charlotte Bouvier / [email protected]
Mary McCarthy / [email protected]
Marin Braco / [email protected]


The theme for the Women in Design Symposium at the 2020 ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX) is Women Inspire Design 20:20. Building on the 20th Anniversary celebration of the WiD Design Excellence Awards, we seek to continue the conversation on how practitioners of design and construction can be change agents for social progress, inclusivity, and equity.

WiD Award of Excellence Background
Introduced in 2000, the Award of Excellence was created to recognize outstanding design work that reflected the values of women in the field. Since that time, it has been given to a person whose body of work has contributed to the betterment of the design community. Open to any discipline or practice that impacts design or built environment, the award honors multifaceted careers, collaboration, and mentorship, promoting those who use their position to positively influence those around them.

Looking Forward: The Next 20 Years
As we celebrate and learn from the past 20 years of awardees, and as we take stock of design practice today, we ask how we can build upon the work of those who came before us - the pioneers who shifted paradigms and gave us an elevated platform upon which we can advance social and professional progress even further. We ask how excellence can be embodied through values and how we will define those values. As a legacy of the Feminist movement within the design field, the Award of Excellence helped give visibility to women and their contributions; how do we recognize contributions with more inclusivity and advance the profession for everyone?


Related to the topic Women Inspire Design 20:20, which may include:


When it comes to breaking down barriers and opening doors to everyone, what do we need to do in the next 20 years, and how? What are effective ways to change institutions? How do we tackle persistent challenges in achieving equity in the design professions? We'll explore how office culture and firm management have and can continue to evolve, and the roles of mentorship, support, and vulnerability to enact difficult but meaningful changes. In what ways have firms adapted to create these meaningful changes? What are specific tips and strategies that we can learn from people who have worked through these barriers so that everyone can benefit?


With the belief that everyone can be a change agent for progress, we explore how design leaders leverage their agency to make design professions accessible to more people. How do we align values among practitioners to improve equity, diversity, and true inclusivity? What does it mean to have a culture of abundance - rather than scarcity - and how does it help promote a more equitable practice? Who are the changemakers that we should emulate? How can we provide visibility and recognition more equitably that is based on the quality or significance of work?


What are the strategies for achieving these changes? What policies can be implemented in our offices as well as at a state and national level? What data is currently being collected and what is still missing from current research initiatives? What are the measurable successes from educational training and mentoring programs? How and what changes in professional practice or office culture have made a difference in the final project outcome? What research initiatives, education workshops, or mentorship programs have been effective daylighting issues and promoting change?

Submit your ABX proposal online and list WID as your sponsor. Proposals are due Friday, April 17. If you have any questions contact Mary McCarthy at [email protected] or Marin Braco at [email protected].

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