Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

A note from our EDI Director, Julia Hess…

Getting my license has been something I’ve been working toward since I started my undergrad in 2014. Throughout my first few years of architecture school at Virginia Tech, I was surrounded by a roughly even split of male and female peers and a diverse faculty body. I heard tales of the lack of diversity once ‘you get to the real world’, but it wasn’t until I had my first internship that I truly saw and felt the absence of women in the field I was working so hard to get into. Since then, I’ve become very aware that the lack of diversity in this field is not due to a lack in the pipeline, but rather a lack in retention as women are continually asked to fit into a career mold shaped for decades by men.

in 2022, I started a position with AIAWS as the first EDI Director for our chapter. There are many wonderful people across the country who are doing the work of continuing to build a diverse pipeline of students; I see my role as helping to create a more welcoming and inclusive space so that they stay when they get here. After 5 years of school, 6 exams, and 3,740 experience hours, I joined the 17% of licensed female architects in the US. Over the next few years, I’m hoping to do everything I can to continue to increase this statistic so that it’s more reflective of the pipeline and getting my license is the first step.

AIAWS Initiatives


Femme // The Collective is a part of the new AIAWS Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Initiative. The goal of Femme is to connect, unite + empower women across the design, construction, and engineering industries in the Winston-Salem area through small quarterly gatherings.

For this year, the goal is to start with small meetings that simply connect women across the industry to broaden our networks. In the future, we would love to host panel discussions and have guest speakers join and possibly even host mentorship and leadership workshops.

If you’re interested in more information or want to attend our next event, please fill out the survey below to be added to our mailing list!

AIA National Resources