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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?

Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.

Guest Blogpost by Jessica Rafferty

I recently traveled to Napa with two friends who are designers. Each sip of wine was followed by a critique of the tasting room, the detailing of the windows, or the questionable lighting used below the bar. Our conversation focused on the superfluous details while other visitors discussed the taste and quality of the wine. This is may seem like a familiar scene when designers get together. Work never really stays in the office when you’re passionate about it.  

At October's Equity by Design symposium in San Francisco, passion, well above financial compensation, was a common description as to why individuals took the path to architecture. However, according to this year’s Equity in Architecture Survey, a staggering amount of architects and designers are not satisfied by their jobs. After all-nighters in school, costly testing, and years of training with the expectation of making significantly less than other high-qualified professionals, what do you do when the passion starts to slip?

During the recession, I often heard my coworkers express that they felt lucky to just have a job. However, as growth returns to the industry, the Equity in Architecture Survey showed that women, as well as men, were struggling to find or maintain interest in their projects or job duties. In just the past year, my LinkedIn feed has been a critical tool for me to keep up with my peers’ movement in the industry, but do you have to leave your current job to find satisfaction? 

A major lesson from Equity by Design was to communicate your value. Communicating is not easy for everyone and that’s coming from someone who does marketing for a living. Laurie Dreyer of Stantec recommended in the Collaborative Negotiation session, “Don’t let karma dictate your future.” Speak up, ask for more. The worst someone can say is no, but at least you tried. This reminded me of one of my first project manager’s motto, “Don’t ask permission, ask for forgiveness”. The saying I’m sure was meant to inspire risk taking in design (but was often used to avoid explaining mysterious credit card charges). I like to consider the saying with a grain of salt, and often think about the phrase when I hesitate to speak up or think twice when negotiating.