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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?

#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.

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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.

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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.