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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

2018 Survey Early Findings Report

The Equity by Design Committee of AIA San Francisco is pleased to release our Early Findings Report. This report is available for viewing online. We look forward to issuing a Final Report for online viewing and publication later in 2019.

As we continue our data analysis, your feedback is important. What topics would you like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments!

Special Thank You to our Sponsors, Contributors and Champions! None of this would be possible without all of you.

EQxDV “Plus One” Voices: Change Starts with Conversations and Community

Written by Itria Licitra

#EQxDV Plus One Scholarship Recipients and Mentors gathering for the first time - Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

#EQxDV Plus One Scholarship Recipients and Mentors gathering for the first time - Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, I found myself looking out over the unusually clear morning bay from the San Francisco Art Institute’s patio - the location for #EQxDV: Voices, Values, Vision Symposium. I am not a member of the architecture community, as a structural engineer, I am architecturally adjacent. I walked onto the patio - lively with the eager chatter of colleagues ready to dive into a difficult and exhausting day of conversations about a number of challenges in the field - unsure of what was to come. Much of what was said over the day was specific to the architecture field, but I was able to find a number of parallels with the engineering field and many tips and tools to inform my approach to my professional practice.

Tactical Implementation Workshop  

Tactical Implementation Workshop  

In the afternoon I attended the “Tactical Implementation” breakout session. During the session, 4 firm leaders spoke about how they exercise and monitor equity at their workplace. After hearing from the speakers, we broke out into small groups based on company size and brainstormed what strategies of tactical implementation would look like at small, medium and large scale. There were two tactics that particularly stood out to me. The first, so simple and seemingly obvious, was to define company values then evaluate how well the company is achieving those values. Setting clear goals and defining what success looks like helps to better measure how well a company is performing with respect to predefined values. I imagine that exercises like this would also help facilitate conversations about nature and cause shortcomings. The second tactic came up a few times throughout the day, it was about how to foster a more diverse workplace. My takeaway was that recruitment should occur in the communities that you would like to see represented in your company. Be intentional about making the company accessible in those spaces.

Through the breakout sessions and the conversations that ensued throughout the day, I was struck by the strength of the community that was forming around me, the kindness and enthusiasm that people were showing towards each other and me, and the ways so many people were tackling the challenge of equity in various ways. I felt inspired by the strength of the people that spoke, willing to share their experiences with all of us and help facilitate this community. Equity by Design has provided a space, for people to come together to share similar and dissimilar experiences. This allowed people to create a network of inspiration and support that I was witness to continuously throughout the day.

Vision Panel - Photo by Rosa Sheng  

Vision Panel - Photo by Rosa Sheng  

I am still relatively new to the industry with just a few years under my belt. I am feeling my way around engineering and design - reconciling the things that I really enjoy with the positive and negative effects that my work has on my community. I live in the Bay Area, where it is rare that a week passes without a conversation about housing prices, gentrification or the tech industry. I cannot pretend like my work does not play a role in this climate. I participate in an industry that primarily creates spaces that are not accessible to me. There are redeeming projects and I do find value, but I would like to find a better way to exercise my skills in a more meaningful way. At the end of the day, listening to the Vision panelists speak, I felt a renewed hope that there are wholly good projects out there. I want to take the conversation they started a step further and explore how we can remove micro-aggressions from everyday projects. How can we use our power and influence to encourage owners to consider how equity can be designed and built in? I don’t know the answer, but I would like to be around to explore options and see where this conversation goes.

Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

#EQxDV: "Plus One" Voices: Belonging Together

Written by Maggie Gaudio

As I prepared to attend my first #EQXDV Symposium, I did not know what to expect. In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure what “Equity by Design” really meant. Initially, I jumped to the conclusion that it meant “equitable design” since I am still in architecture school and have made it my personal goal to create socially conscious designs that benefit everyone as opposed to select groups of people.


My naivety became clear to me the moment the symposium began and I was exposed to Equity in Architecture Survey findings - data the organizers of the event had collected from over 14,000 professionals in the realm of architecture and design. This data covered the current climate of the profession in regards to gender, race, salary, values, work/life balance and so forth. The reality of this data and the conversations that flowed from it revealed to me that equity by design, although still related to equitable design, has a much broader and holistic meaning. I learned that equity by design means bringing understanding to the profession. An understanding that everyone is different and brings valuable, relevant qualities to the table. Therefore each should be appreciated and rewarded appropriately. Currently, there is a general awareness of this, yet not an overall understanding and implementation of it.

The following are some issues that I had encountered before attending the symposium but feel I learned about much more deeply throughout the event:

  1. Women in architecture and the related fields are still being paid less than men.

  2. Only about 440 black females in the country are registered architects. In the country!!

  3. Many women leave the profession after having children.

  4. The concept of work/life balance means something different to everyone.


These topics are prime examples of how today’s professional field of architecture is aware of the fact that people are different, yet there is not an understanding and appreciation of this difference. There is such a lack of understanding that women are either not getting licensed or leaving the field because of their race, their commitments to their families, or their unequal salaries. As a woman entering the profession and interested in one day having a family and a life outside of my job, this causes me significant concern. However, having attended the symposium - hearing from and speaking with people who share similar concerns as me - it was inspiring and refreshing to be surrounded by like-minded people as dedicated to creating a more inclusive professional field as myself.


This collective dedication and passion for the same cause was contagious and the sense of community was palpable. One of the several panelists that we had the pleasure of listening to, Damaris Hollingsworth, said that she believed the definition of community was when we intentionally behave as if we belong together. I wholeheartedly agree with this and it was clear that the attendees of the symposium intentionally behaved as if they belonged there and comfortably shared their thoughts with each other.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is quite the same in the day-to-day reality of the architectural profession. Well, not yet. As with most cultural shifts, major changes don’t happen overnight. But the symposium is an example of first steps, of bringing awareness to the issues at hand and fostering an inspiring environment in which people can openly share ideas on how to make change happen. Throughout the day, there was an emphasis on the concept of champions - of being a champion for someone else and of having a champion for yourself. When we are surrounded by the support of such champions, we feel empowered to make a difference. I definitely felt (and still feel!) empowered by the champions I met at the symposium to become an increasingly engaged and active member of this community, united in the cause of creating a more inclusive and understanding profession.

Belonging Together - “It was clear that the attendees of the symposium intentionally behaved as if they belonged there and comfortably shared their thoughts with each other.”

Belonging Together - “It was clear that the attendees of the symposium intentionally behaved as if they belonged there and comfortably shared their thoughts with each other.”

#EQxDV "Plus One" Voices: How one day can impact your life

Written by Olga Bracamontes, NOMA

When Diane Jacobs, from Holly Street Studio in Phoenix, sent me the application for the #EQxDV Plus One Scholarship, I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Two weeks prior to attending the Equity by Design Symposium, I was returning home from the 2018 NOMA Conference after hosting a seminar with my chapter, NOMAarizona. I was aware of the Equity in Architecture Survey but had no clue about the symposium. I knew I was in for a treat when reading through the breakout session topics and the panelist discussions.


As my first time attending a conference alone, especially out of town, I was very excited yet a bit nervous but I was sure that I’d be able to connect with amazing people. The moment I walked up to the registration table on Saturday morning, who did I run into? My mentor: Jill Bergman! What are the chances! We spent our morning getting to know each other, talking about the conference and sharing words of knowledge.

Although the data and panel discussions were informative, it isn’t surprising that there is a lot of work yet to be done in our industry and the AEC community for equitable practice. Rosa Sheng = wow! This woman is a true leader and speaks in such a way that moves you. She brought so much energy to the room full of attendees with her story, words of inspiration, and raised questions that I hadn’t put thought into before. Rosa started the conference by talking about the difference between equality, equity and justice, and why equity matters. This conversation framed the content of the symposium and caused me to do a lot of self-reflection. Why do I do what I do? Because I need to be who I needed growing up.

As I filled my new #EQxDV sketchbook with notes throughout the day, I reflected upon my personal contributions, involvement with the community and the youth. I felt proud of the work I’ve done over the last few years, especially my involvement with NOMAarizona over the last year as a founding member. Diversity and inclusion is our driving force as a chapter, and as the College Liaison I have been fortunate to work closely with college students as they are the future. But after hearing the stories from the panelists I thought, “there is SO much more for me to do!”

If there is something that I really appreciated from the symposium was that they provided a safe space, a place to be vulnerable without judgement. People shared amazing stories, often accompanied with their failures and struggles, which is important for me to hear. We aren’t perfect. Life is full of struggles. It’s ok to talk about them and be willing to share with others. As a young professional who is actively involved with the community and aspires to have a family someday, I know that I will face many struggles but the women I met at the symposium assured me that it IS possible to do both. It’s definitely not an easy road, but it can be done.


Last but not least; the people. I’m very grateful to have been paired up with a wonderful mentor that provided plenty of advice but also encouraged me. Your energy is contagious and I was always fascinated with our conversations. Thank you Jill! It was also great to connect with the other women of the #EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship cohort, whom are brilliant and inspiring. The people that I met at the symposium, some of which are also NOMA members, provided great insight to what I wish to continue working on or pursue. I look forward to attending the symposium in the future and reconnect with amazing individuals who are changing the game. Opportunities come and go, and we must learn to take them. It truly comes a long way when just one person provides that gateway. Thank you Diane for sharing this opportunity of applying for the #EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship to an event that would impact my life and career.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV "Plus One" Voices: The More You Do, The More You CAN Do


December, 2014. Barely coming out of the recession, I was working on commercial/ light industrial projects as an independent architectural consultant while balancing raising my two daughters, fourteen and eight at the time. Although architecture as a profession was clawing its way up from the Great Housing Depression, not everyone was employed to maximize their abilities. Being an immigrant woman of color, a mother, and a recent transplant from Pasadena to Irvine, I didn’t have the network and resources I needed to connect with companies that aligned with my interests. At that point, I was not a member of AIA Orange County yet. One fine day, while surfing the internet for current and relevant articles on architecture, I came across Rosa Sheng, and the initiative (originally known as) “The Missing 32%”. That was the straw I was looking to grasp, and I haven’t looked back ever since. 

#EQxDV Plus One Scholarship Recipients and Mentors

#EQxDV Plus One Scholarship Recipients and Mentors

This year, I was selected to participate in the “Plus One” scholarship program for 2018 Equity by Design Symposium. In celebration of the #EQxDV 5 year founding anniversary, Equity by Design paid it forward with five “Plus One” scholarships for students and emerging professionals to attend the symposium, and connect with five EQxD Mentors/ Champions to share insights on their careers in the built environment. My fellow “Plus One” cohorts were Olga Bracamontes, Taylor Holloway, Maggie Gaudio, and Itria Licitra. We were each paired with a mentor, and mine was Mani Ardalan Farhadi.


Mani and I have known each other virtually for the past year, bonding over topics related to archimoms (mothers in the profession of architecture) and equitable future in the profession. She is a Senior Facilities Planner at Stanford School of Medicine, “Thought Leader” with Equity by Design, “Citizen Architect” formerly on the Los Gatos Union School District Board, Publicist at AIA Silicon Valley’s Women in Architecture Committee, and former blog editor at the Iranian American Women Foundation. It was a perfect mentor-mentee pair, with similar (and several!) work and life integration/ challenge parallels.

What we see is that the gap between white men and women has narrowed, but meanwhile the gap between white men and people of color has gotten wider over time,
— Annelise Pitts, AIA, (The 2018 Equity in Architecture Survey Encourages Industry Soul-Searching, Metropolis Magazine, November 13, 2018, Lydia Lee)

As a volunteer for the survey preparation and an AIA member taking the survey, this was a surreal moment where I was part of past, present and future of an equitable profession. Reality in the shape of graphs stared at me, and I wondered, why the denial? More data followed, showing how women of color with a master’s degree in architecture will earn significantly less than a white male with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. 

Natalie Tse, a presenter of “Building an Equitable Workplace from the Bottom Up”

Natalie Tse, a presenter of “Building an Equitable Workplace from the Bottom Up”

I attended a break out session titled “Building an Equitable Workplace from the Bottom Up”, and listened to Natalie Tse share her story of juggling caregiving and a career as a structural engineer, while also being the cofounder of SE3 Project (geared towards equitable future in Structural Engineering). Natalie’s story of Asian upbringing and the need for self-care resonated with me. As a mother of two, with a full-time job,the Chair of Women in Architecture Committee for AIA Orange County, as well as an ARE test taker, I admit that self-care is on the bottom of my list. Post symposium, I am rethinking self-care, and have made a promise to myself to never let my sleep or health suffer for anything.

During lunch break, the courtyard at the San Francisco Art Institute was filled with the energy and diverse voices of architecture, who were ready to transform the future of the profession. We networked, exchanged contact information, shared our stories, and wished each other success in our chosen paths. We got lunch and broke out into smaller groups.

Mani and I shared our backgrounds and stories. Within minutes into the conversation, Mani gave tips on how to handle performance reviews and negotiate for promotions/ pay raises. She explained how to prepare a folder with printed material and communication showcasing my accomplishments throughout the year, document over-time hours, and all examples that demonstrate going above and beyond my job duties. She advised me to do market research, be assertive, and acknowledge what I deserved without hesitation. Unfortunately I had just finished my review before the symposium, but there is always next year! I am so grateful for this unique experience. Mani is everything I would like to be as an archimom down the lane, willing to share her struggles, her triumphs, and her journey.

Later in the afternoon, I attended the breakout session “Chart Your Path” with Lilian Asperin (left) and Jill Bergman (right). This session integrated work, life, and everything that requires strategic mapping of professional development. Lilian shared her story (I Unsubscribed), and her visual mapping method using analogue tools (post-its!) to find patterns that guide your decision making. Jill shared how you can add more to who you are with a strategic growth plan. I worked on Jill’s method, and realized that I have a short term goal, a long term goal, but not a vision! This was my biggest take-away from the symposium. Seemingly simple, yet complicated when you sit down with a pen and paper. The path is never linear but the plan is, with the ability to meander and course-correct.

Rosa Sheng’s inspirational keynote at the end of the symposium brought almost everyone to tears, as she shared the story of her archimom’s dinner invitation with Steve Jobs. It was very sentimental, touching, and inspiring at the same time. Networking in the courtyard followed, with everyone sharing their takeaways and influences from the symposium. I made new friends, met my social media friends and influences, and connected with more like-minded people.

The EQxDV Symposium was inspiring and energizing, and there is a renewed fire within my soul to do more, to be more.

Two weeks after the symposium, I have taken my plans and goals more seriously than ever. A lot of thought has gone into the direction I want my career to take. The vision board is still a work in progress, and I know there will be challenges in the years to come as I transition from an actively involved parent to an empty nester to primary care-giving. But, to make this vision my own, and not my employer’s or my mentor’s, will help me become my authentic self and give my heart and soul to what I truly believe in.

When I drove to the symposium, I knew I was joining the Board of Directors for AIA Orange County, but I didn’t have a two-year plan. Post symposium, I know what I want to work towards… I am the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - aligning with the Strategic Plan developed by AIA Orange County. In that role, I will be the champion of change and an advocate for equity, or a JEDI Master (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) as Rosa Sheng puts it.


"Their goal wasn't to stand out because of their differences; it was to fit in because of their talents.”

- Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures

This quote sums up what women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ aspire to achieve through an equitable framework for a better future. In an ideal world, nothing other than work ethics and talents should matter. Unfortunately, we need equitable frameworks, knowledge and intercultural intelligence (ICQ) to help dismantle the system barriers that prevent advancement. Architecture is a profession that can benefit from diverse experiences to shape our built communities. No one should feel stifled because of their gender, color or race. Let the learnings from the symposium empower us to seek  champions and pay it forward by mentoring the next generation. 

My tweets from the symposium: @meghanaira 

My Instagram story from the symposium: @meghanaira 


If you liked this post, please view the other posts here:

#EQxDV “Plus One” Voices: Speaking Up is Hard

#EQxDV “Plus One” The More You Do, The More You Can Do

#EQxDV "Plus One" Voices: How one day can impact your life

#EQxDV: "Plus One" Voices: Belonging Together

#EQxDV “Plus One” Voices: Change starts with Conversation and Community

#EQxDV "Plus One" Voices: Speaking Up is Hard

Written by Taylor Holloway

Speaking up is hard. Being the only one is hard. Succeeding in your profession without an abundance of support, peers, or mentors with shared commonalities, is even harder.

The #EQxDV Symposium, the 2018 Equity in Architecture Survey, and the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice, are the courageous efforts that give validity to the systemic, accepted, and covert, biases and injustices within architectural education and practice since the history of United States. Prior to the #EQxDV Symposium, I had never been able to articulate, voice, or discuss my experience of architectural education and practice that 90% of licensed architects have not experienced, and largely, cannot comprehend.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

For the first time ever, alongside a band of driven equity and justice warriors, I recognized that I was not alone in my experience both at school and in practice. I am not alone in being the only black woman in my graduate M.Arch class. I am not alone in being told by firm leadership that I was “just was not a good fit” irrespective of my professional performance. I am not alone in grappling with the reality, cost, and isolation of being the first generation in my family to attend college as well as the first to attend graduate school. And most importantly, I am not alone in deciding to commit myself to changing the profession of architecture.

The #EQxDV Symposium was undoubtedly an exceptional event, but more so, it was a space of true dichotomy. It is a space where both pain and joy were unearthed. It is a space where both fact and feeling were examined. It is a space where both reality and the means for mobilizing a new reality convened. Above all, it is a space that architecture needs.

Intersectionality Workshop Presenters - (Right to Left) Rosa Sheng, Prescott Revis, Mani Farhadi, and A.L. Hu. Photo by Taylor Holloway.

Intersectionality Workshop Presenters - (Right to Left) Rosa Sheng, Prescott Revis, Mani Farhadi, and A.L. Hu. Photo by Taylor Holloway.

During a morning workshop - Intersectionality and Intercultural Intelligence, we utilized Milton Bennett’s Intercultural Development Continuum to aid us in pinpointing our personal Intercultural Mindsets. Our talented and patient facilitators helped participants identify how we each dis-engage with or actively integrate our understanding of cultural difference into our lives. Applying actionable tools and processes to confront inequity and bias that exists in all forms of professional practice, not just architecture, isn’t impossible--but it is work. It is work that requires iteration and a conscientious effort to be inclusive and self-aware.

Intersectionality Workshop Participants - Photo by Andre Pennycooke.

Intersectionality Workshop Participants - Photo by Andre Pennycooke.

Among the many learnings I drew from the Intersectionality workshop and the Symposium, what resounded most is that moving towards equity, justice, diversity and inclusion is not solely the work of the underrepresented. It is the work of all of us. Only in collaboration and from a place of openness can architecture emerge on the other side of history as an adaptable, valued, relevant, and evolving profession.

Voices Panel - Kevin Holland, Diana Jacobs, Julia V. Mandell, Tiffany Brown, and A.L. Hu. Photo credit by Wanda Lau

Voices Panel - Kevin Holland, Diana Jacobs, Julia V. Mandell, Tiffany Brown, and A.L. Hu. Photo credit by Wanda Lau

Tiffany Brown, the founder of 400 Forward, spoke at the Symposium about whether it is fair to steward African American women into a field where they will be underrepresented and undercompensated. And it is true; according to the 2018 Equity In Architecture survey data,  black women in architecture may find themselves possessing a master’s degree and still earning less than a white male counterpart with only a bachelor's degree. And it is true; in 2018 we’re still addressing whether a millennia old profession can be made equitable enough to include individuals of different races, creeds, gender identities, socio-economic backgrounds. Yet everyone at the #EQxDV Symposium was in attendance because they possess a belief, or at a minimum a hope, that the evolution and relevance we seek as a profession, will only come after we have made space for the very populations architecture never intended to make space for.

This past week I had the privilege of witnessing Tamara Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, give a keynote address. Listening to Tamara, I began to fully understand that those of us working to overcome an injustice or a form of trauma can only do so if made aware that we are not alone. The EQxDV Symposium exists not simply to affirm the profession’s real challenges of inequity and bias, but to serve as a foundation and wellspring of encouragement for the efforts that are propelling the profession forward and ushering in new generations of designers, architects, and leaders.

The #EQxDV Symposium was a gathering of the most welcoming and authentic group of individuals in the profession that I have ever encountered. It is also the only gathering of architects I have ever seen collectively decide that they care enough about the profession to mobilize and develop strategies to evolve the field so that its future may look nothing like its past. It was an honor to attend the 5th Equity by Design Symposium, and I reiterate: it is a space that architecture needs.

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

#EQxDV "Plus One" Scholarship Winners!

This year in celebration of #EQxDV our 5 Year Founding Anniversary, we are paying it forward with 5 “Plus One” Scholarship Winners for students and emerging professionals to attend our 5th Sold Out Equity by Design Symposium and connect with 5 amazing EQxD mentor/champions to share insights on their careers in the built environment.


Olga Bracamontes is on the path towards her architecture license, while currently working on a performance art center project that will serve the community. She was invited to the first Women in Architecture Conference at ASU in April 2018, a student let event, to participate as a panelist representing recent alumna. Olga recently presented at the 2018 NOMA Conference in Chicago as the College Liaison of NOMAarizona, based on a job search seminar with college students.


Taylor Holloway is an architect, educator, and maker with broad experience using design-driven approaches to promote equity in the built environment. She is the Founder of Public Design Agency, a multidisciplinary design studio that fosters civic stewardship, urban revitalization, and cross-cultural exchange through art, architecture, and collaborative design practices.


Maggie Gaudio is in her final year as a Bachelor of Architecture candidate at UT Austin. She is in San Francisco for a semester-long internship with Steinberg Hart as part of a residency program. She is interested in how architecture practice and education can become increasingly socially conscious.


Meghana Joshi has worked on diverse commercial and residential projects throughout California, and specializes in senior and multifamily housing projects. Her projects have received SAGE award, PCBC Gold Nugget grand award, and SoCal award this year. She is the Founder/Chair of Women in Architecture committee for AIA Orange County, and she will join AIA Orange County Board of Directors beginning Jan 2019.

Itria Licitra (1).jpg

Itria Licitra is a structural engineer (CE) based in the East Bay currently working at Tipping Structural Engineers in Berkeley, CA. Originally from Los Angeles, she came to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley (B.S., M.S.). She is curious about the intersection of structural and architectural design and the impact on community. She is also currently working on honing her carpentry skills.

Thank to our amazingly generous mentor/champions include Thought Leaders from current and past Equity by Design Symposia and Hackathons - Mani Farhadi, Jill Bergman, Patricia Ramallo, Frances Choun, Saskia Dennis Van Dijl.

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We are grateful to the generous #EQxDV Symposium sponsors of the Plus One Scholarship program, including Laura Thomas, AIA of Melville Thomas Architects and Patricia Ramallo of NCARB.

2018 EQxD Hackathon: Winners Take On Equitable Compensation

Recap of the invigorating 4th EQxD Hackathon and the winning team’s submission which was hosted by Syracuse University’s Fisher Center - by Lilian Asperin, AIA and Rosa T. Sheng, FAIA

This year on June 20th, the 4th Equity by Design Hackathon: ArchitectuREvolution took place before the AIA National Conference on Architecture in New York City. The hackathon theme was inspired by the U.N. Initiative - the New Urban Agenda serves as a multi-faceted platform for Architects to apply our best skills towards imagining and committing to a world that is truly inclusive, where equity is for everyone. The EQxD Hackathon embodies the defining characters of the Agenda - to reinvigorate, to ensure effectiveness, and to create resiliency. Urban development, while different in scale as Practice development, engenders similar goals of wellness for present generations, openness to embrace diversity and evolving demographics, and a pledge towards sustainability for the future by taking bold steps, together, and today.

As one of the most anticipated workshops at the annual AIA Conference, the EQxD Hackathon continues the goal to create a unique learning experience that is essential to building our skills as designers and architects. Designed as an immersive experience, the workshop is hands-on, action-oriented, inclusive and teaches the process framework for hacking. Groups of thought leaders, licensed architects, and emerging professionals gathered in an incubator-like setting at the Fisher Center to learn and apply radical thinking towards transformational concepts.

The goal - improving Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Architectural Practice and the Communities we serve. Teams presented their “Hacks” to industry experts and a winning concept was selected to be featured in our blog for further discussion and development. These photos communicate some of the amazing energy, creativity and high level engagement from the day that participants can share with their colleagues.

And the winner is….

Compensation Facts

clear, comprehensive and customized for you

Equity is for everyone. Everyone is different. And, everyone’s compensation goals vary over the course of a career.

The winning concept “Compensation Facts” was developed by participants Christina Booher; Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA; Marissa Kasdan, Assoc. AIA; Marisa Nemcik, AIA; Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA; D. Brooke Robinson, AIA; and Laura Wheaton, AIA.

Compensation Facts Team: Christina Booher; Marissa Kasdan, Assoc. AIA; D. Brooke Robinson, AIA; Marisa Nemcik, AIA; and Laura Wheaton, AIA, Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA, Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA;

Compensation Facts Team: Christina Booher; Marissa Kasdan, Assoc. AIA; D. Brooke Robinson, AIA; Marisa Nemcik, AIA; and Laura Wheaton, AIA, Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA, Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA;


A firm should not expect all to thrive under the same compensation package. Compensation Facts makes it easier for firms to communicate a competitive and customized compensation package that supports recruitment and retention of top quality talent while also measuring equity in compensation across all staff.


The first step in improving the navigation of the compensation negotiation is to ensure consistency. We believe the AIA can be the catalyst that turns architecture into the leading industry for transparent work agreements. Similar to AIA contract templates, we encourage the AIA to produce and distribute compensation fact templates. Working with you, we propose to inform and draft clauses that reflect ways that compensation is equitable.

“Compensation Facts: Modeled on nutrition labels, which help you watch what you eat, Compensation Facts helps you watch what you make”.  

~ Excerpt from Equity by Design Hackathon Team Pitch

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“An at-a-glance template of pay and benefits, which aggregates into a complete picture of work/life integration. This two-part template lists salary and baseline benefits including: insurance, paid time off, retirement, and other benefits clearly and concisely, the same way every time, across positions, across firms, and across the country. Additionally, it includes a range of opt-in benefits an employee can experience while at a particular firm.”


The use of Compensation Facts templates will enable complex compensation packages to be compared apples to apples. This clarity creates the framework for conversations about creative and personally relevant types or mixes of elements of compensation that can be customized based on need and/or preference to support work/life satisfaction. In practice, a firm might offer two or three equivalent compensation packages for the same position, allowing the employee to select the best fit for them.

Given the diverse composition of the Equity by Design Hackathon team members, a few potential scenarios include: greater professional development opportunities and tuition reimbursement; more PTO days for family vacations; flexibility or subsidized funds for caregiving needs; or zeroing out benefits in exchange for higher salary and retirement plan strategies.

While full Compensation Facts would be private, employers could opt to make a partial facts chart publicly available as part of their talent recruitment.

Next Steps: We are seeking interested leaders and firms who are willing to help us prototype this concept! Please contact us via


Thanks to our #EQxDHack18 Sponsors

We are grateful for the champions who provided scholarships for students and emerging professionals to attend. We are also grateful for Syracuse University Fisher Center and Staff for making this event possible.


Join our Champions! #EQxDV Sponsorship Opportunities

The movement for equitable practice can't happen without the generous support and commitment of the Architectural and Engineering community, both individuals and firms that have doubled down on forging the path forward for more equitable workplace culture, creating new value for design and practice and impactful outcomes for the communities we serve.



Become a #EQxDV Symposium Sponsor! 

Join the current group of Champions for the #EQxDV Symposium on November 3, 2018. There are many benefits to sponsorship support of this premiere event, including reserved tickets for the events based on the level of support so that you don't have to worry about registration being sold out. Please get in touch with us before the August 22th Registration launch.

Firm Sponsorship Benefits Prospectus

Premium Sponsorship Benefits Prospectus

Name *
Sponsorship Levels *
Please let us know what level you are interested in


2018 Equity by Design Sustaining Sponsors

We would like to take the time to thank our AIASF EQxD 2018 Sustaining Sponsors who have supported the 2018 Equity in Architecture Survey Research effort that has resulted in over 14,000 responses.

EQxD Curated Collection - Guide to A'18 in NYC

What should I attend at A'18 AIA Conference on Architecture in NYC?

by Rosa T. Sheng, FAIA


If you are like me, I get overwhelmed by the vast amount of programs that are offered at AIA National Conference on Architecture. Add on that next week's marathon of events will be held in multiple locations in New York City and you have yourself a "deer in headlights." Have no fear, we have taken the guess work out of your experience with quality content that has been curated by topics we hold near and dear to us. Of course we will showcase the EQxD Seminars that we have crafted and honed over the past 4 years. We also want to expand our reach to those seminars that amplify our core values and mission.


EQxD Programs  - Year 4

SOLD OUT!!!! EV202 EQxDHackathon: ArchitectuREvolution: Just, Equitable, Diverse, & Inclusive Practice

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Time: 1PM - 5PM
Location: Syracuse University's Fisher Center

Celebrating its 4th year, the EQxD Hackathon is an experience described as action-oriented and career changing. Groups of thought leaders, licensed architects, and emerging professionals will assemble in an incubator-like setting to apply radical thinking to develop transformational concepts for improving justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in architectural practice and the communities we serve. The event will lead off with luminary panelists, Danny Guillory of Autodesk, Katherine Darnstadt of Latent Design, Lilian Asperin of WRNS Studios, and Frances Choun, Equity Champion and long time past sponsor. Teams will present their hacks and the winner will have the opportunity to launch their concept into practice. This year we are excited to welcome #EQxDHack18 Scholarship Winners!

EQxDHack18 Scholarship Winners!

EQxDHack18 Scholarship Winners!


FR205 - Equity by Design: Architects as Catalysts for Community Engagement & Social Impact [1.50 LUs/RIBA]

Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 7:30 AM - 9:00 AM
Location: Javits Center, Room 1A07

How does architecture impact the social fabric of our communities, and how does equity influence outcomes? Hear from a panel of architect champions who are pushing the boundaries of social and cultural concern - Michael Ford, Katherine Darnstadt, Garrett Jacobs moderated by Rosa Sheng, FAIA . They'll discuss design as a problem-solving tool and explore how your work can affect the social structures of communities everywhere, creating measurable and practical effects on how people interact and experience community. By considering equitable access, you can reshape the way people experience public space and, by extension, public life. Join us for a revealing conversation about how you can be a catalyst for solving shared challenges, driving social change, and fostering engagement.


Equitable Practice Sessions

Practical skill builds and discussions for Career Pinch Point challenges

EV204 - Share Your Voice: Guides for the Future of Equitable Practice

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Time: 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Are you interested in building a more equitable workplace, but unsure of how to start? Do you have expertise on an equity issue that could benefit others? In either case, the Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee wants your feedback on a new series of Equitable Practice Guides designed to provide strategies for advancing equity within your workplace. Come ready to learn about EQ+FA's work, and to contribute your ideas towards a guidebook poised to shape the future of design practice.


TH317 - Show Me the Money? Exploring Pay Transparency [1.00 LU/RIBA]

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 8:45 AM - 9:45 AM
Location: Javits Center, Room 1E07

Pay transparency is a polarizing topic. Some argue that it has the potential to increase pay equity while improving trust and employee morale. Others argue against it, citing concerns that it prevents them from rewarding high performers and puts them at a disadvantage in a competitive talent market. Join this lively discussion and debate about the benefits and drawbacks of pay transparency. You'll hear a moderated panel discussion that will engage leaders from award-winning, nationally recognized firms. You'll also be able to assess whether pay transparency is a management strategy you would find beneficial in your own firm.


"J.E.D.I"  Focused Sessions

What are the other must attend events at AIA Conference and Beyond? Last year we introduced the concept of J.E.D.I Architecture - Just, Equitable, Diverse and Inclusive ways that we, as citizen architects and civic design advocates, can transform our practices into vital, valued and relevant services to better serve our communities. 

TH112 - Defense of the Public Realm [1.00 LU/HSW/GBCI/RIBA]

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 7:00 AM - 8:00 AM
Location: Hilton Midtown, 1334 6th Avenue, Regent Room

Times Square is the most visited place in New York, with over 40 million people passing through every year. Designing an open space where people want to gather while considering the security concerns of a post-9/11 New York was a unique challenge. Safety and security were critically important in designing New York's newest plaza, as evidenced by closing Broadway to car traffic and giving two-and-a-half acres back to pedestrians in the middle of Manhattan. Join Craig Dykers, founder of Snohetta and partner-in-charge of the Times Square plaza, to discuss the designer's critical role in dealing with security and freedom in public space.


TH409 - Addressing Inequality in Our Cities: Building a Resilient Future (ArchiTalk) [1.50 LUs/RIBA]

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 9:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Location: Hilton Midtown, 1335 6th Avenue, Trianon Ballroom

Structural disadvantages-racial segregation, poor infrastructure, and chronic underinvestment-have a significant impact on who benefits from community investment. Vulnerable communities are often disproportionately affected and often experience lasting consequences. Communities under stress, such as Boston, New Orleans, and Ferguson, Missouri, have revealed the lasting effects of segregation and racism and points of weakness that can no longer be ignored. Join us for this enlightening session to explore these complex issues in greater depth. A former mayor, former chief resilience officer, and two practicing architects will examine the complicated intersection of architecture, public health, climate change, and racism.


TH516 - A Citizen Architect’s Field Guide to Building Resilience. Get Involved! [1.00 LU/HSW/GBCI/RIBA]

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: Hilton Midtown, 1334 6th Avenue, Gramercy Room

Successful design and planning were never limited to the drafting table. When practitioners recognize the value of sharing their time, talent, and training to effect change in their communities, transformative worlds emerge. This panel will discuss how the role of architects shapes and supports state and local government before, in response to, and after a disaster. Come with an interest in doing more. Leave with a plan of action!


FR401 - A Conversation with Sir David Adjaye & Tamara Eagle Bull (Pro Series) [1.50 LUs/RIBA]

Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 9:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Location: The New School, 63 5th Avenue, Tishman Auditorium

Join us for a captivating moderated discussion with A'18 Day 1 Keynote Speaker and AIA Awards recipients. They'll be discussing topics such as leading change in the profession, legacy, community impact, etc.


FR407 - Building for Density & Affordability: Creating Resilient Equitable Urban Communities [1.50 LUs/HSW/GBCI/RIBA]

Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 9:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Location: Javits Center, Room 1E10

As global cities address the need for more affordable housing, little attention is paid to how these communities become socially and economically resilient. Amenities, including education, healthcare, retail, and open space are essential, along with civic engagement. Low-rise, high-density (LRHD) housing prototypes have introduced quantifiably better models for urban living compared to "tower in the park" models. Join this session and hear from an expert panel as they examine LRHD models around the globe and discuss the future of affordable housing and resilient communities.


SA104 - Citizen Architecture: Reinventing the American Legacy City [1.00 LU/RIBA]

Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
Time: 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Location: The New School, 63 5th Avenue, Room UL105

Good cities demand excellence in brick and mortar - but also in inclusion and equity. Join this review of best-practice examples that illustrate how you can overcome "design of exclusion" from intended or unintended planning paradigms. You'll hear how you can engage your community using the pillars of professional ethics; support reinvestment in existing communities through co-ops, land trusts, and CDCs; leverage the cultural and physical DNA of the industrial legacy city; grow equity through "smart city" innovation and startups; and more. When it comes to shaping our futures, knowledge is power. This session will deliver real resources for effective practice.

SA401 - Social Entrepreneurship as a Practice Model (Pro Series) [1.50 LUs/RIBA]

Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
Time: 1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: The New School, 63 5th Avenue, Tishman Auditorium

Interested in learning how to integrate social impact work into your firm? We will discuss different models to operationalize community impact design. You will hear from four types of organizations’ traditional Architectural service firm (Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects), a nonprofit design & real estate development firm (Designing Justice + Designing Spaces), an international design network (Open Architecture Collaborative), and a nonprofit doing graphic design advocacy with communities (Center for urban Pedagogy). Each of these organizations takes a different approach to defining its services to reach its ideal clients. You'll learn how certain services that might seem nontraditional actually support the organizational mission while generating revenue to fuel growth. This session is part of the Pro Series, four seminars covering advanced topics. The Pro Series sessions are free with your A'18 registration.


Women in Leadership Sessions

These sessions cover topics focused on celebrating, advocating and advancing women into leadership and ownership of professional practices.

TH408 - Agents of Change: When Women Lead (ArchiTalk) [1.50 LUs/RIBA]

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 9:45 AM - 11:15 AM
Location: Hilton Midtown, 1334 6th Avenue, Mercury Ballroom

Throughout the architectural profession, more and more women are sitting at the leadership table, or at the head of that table. Hear from three different perspectives on what that leadership table looks like today and how they got there. What does increased leadership roles mean for women, and how have they changed their firms and the profession? How do they leverage their strengths to make a difference? Change within organizations can happen slowly and these leaders have been at the forefront, reshaping the firms and the practice of architecture. Learn from leaders who have carved paths to the top and hear how they hope to profession evolves in the future.


TH506 - From Young Female Designers to Firm Leaders: The Boston Experiment [1.00 LU/RIBA]

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: Javits Center, Room 1E07

What's possible when you bridge the gap between young female designers and leaders in architecture?

This session is a reflection on a one-year experiment on design equity in Boston called the Girl UNinterrupted Project. The experiment served three key functions: It offered a manual to young designers on how to jump-start careers, it provided firm leaders with an understanding of young designers' struggles, and it offered suggestions for creating an office culture that is equitable and maximizes talent.

Gain critical insights from these firsthand accounts, and bring practical knowledge back to your practice.


TH509 - The Missing 32 Percent (Women) & Missing Small Architects [1.00 LU/RIBA]

Date: Thursday, June 21, 2018
Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: Javits Center, Room 1E12

Women architects and firm owners still have meager access to steady and meaningful project opportunities. Licensing statistics are low for women, and they also face roadblocks to prosperity and equal access similar to small firms. This session takes a critical look at the reasons why. 

Join this solutions-based discussion addressing the gender disparity that is still pervasive in the architecture profession. 

Led by a woman FAIA and a panel of public sector leaders, you'll dissect how to expand access to steady and meaningful project opportunities for women architects and small firm owners. You'll explore potential solutions, including how public sector could make a difference.


Professional Conduct - Harassment Free Workplace Culture Sessions

FR519 - Harassment in the Workplace, Part 1-Compliance and Culture: Building a Respectful & Harassment-Free Workplace Culture [1.00 LU/RIBA]

Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: Javits Center, Room 1E14

Every organizational leader has the responsibility to create a culture that values diversity, demonstrates respect, and is free from any form of harassment or discrimination. This session will cover both the compliance and legal issues related to harassment in the workplace and will outline the values, norms, and practices that must be in place in order to prevent harassment from being a common occurrence. The presenter will introduce participants to the most current information regarding forms of harassment in the workplace and the federal laws that prohibit it. She will also help leaders understand what constitutes inappropriate behavior, what actions must be taken to address it, and how they can create a more respectful, inclusive, and harassment-free workplace culture.


SA113 - Harassment in the Workplace, Part 2-Community and Resources: Hearing Voices & Exploring Conversation Strategies [1.00 LU/RIBA]

Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
Time: 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Location: Hilton Midtown, 1334 6th Avenue, Mercury Ballroom

Panelists will provide an introduction on the topic of harassment, and there will be an open forum in which participants will be able to raise various factual scenarios for discussion. The panelists will respond to questions, covering prevention, reporting and long-term remedies. The session will also cover key resources, including relevant government agencies and other organizations, as well as educational resources.


Other "Must Attend" Events

A+ Session: Architectural Activism Then & Now
12:50pm, Friday, June 22 Javits Center Exhibit Hall 

Abstract: Design should create a feeling of social, racial, and cultural equity. These leading architects are challenging the industry to create spaces that change behavior and advance inclusivity. Attend this session to learn how. 

Moderator: Bill Richards, senior director, digital content strategy, AIA

Tiffany Brown,


Now What?! is the first exhibition to examine the little-known history of architects and designers working to further the causes of the civil rights, women’s, and LGBTQ movements of the past fifty years. The exhibition content, conversations, and stories will inspire a new generation of design professionals to see themselves as agents of change by looking at the past to see new ways forward.

An exhibition by ArchiteXX.






Friday, June 22, 2018

11:00 AM  - 12:30 PM

S9 Architecture - 460 West 34th Street, 20th floor  New York, NY, 10001

1. Black Women Architects: A History of Activism 11:00–11:45

Moderator: Roberta Washington

  • Panelists:
  • Alexa Donaphin, AIA, NOMA
  • Kathryn Prigmore, FAIA, NOMA
  • Katherine Williams, AIA, NOMA

2. Out of the Shadows: Telling the Story of African American Architects 11:45–12:30

Moderator: Pascale Sablan or Roberta Washington

  • Panelists:
  • Kathleen Ettienne, NOMA
  • Brad Grant, AIA, NOMA
  • Melvin Mitchell, FAIA, NOMA



Friday, 12:30-2pm - Location Details Forthcoming

Inspired by the energy of the flash mob event from the Voices of Women ( in Venice, a consortium of architectural activist groups and individuals will gather as a united group for "Voices of Equity" to support the equitable treatment of all design professionals of diverse identities and backgrounds. We will gather to show solidarity and share in reading a manifesto for dignity and respect for all. Stay tuned for more information.