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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?

Restructuring Structural Engineering for Equity: The 1st SE3 Symposium Builds a Case

by Julia Mandell, AIA - Equity by Design Co-Chair

The inaugural SEAONC/SE3 Symposium, held on Thursday, January 26th, 2017, was invigorating and inspiring - a chance to understand the state of equity and engagement in the profession of structural engineering - through lively panel discussions to get a sense of the possibilities for a different kind of practice.  

Equity is not just an issue in architecture - things are similarly dire in structural engineering. According to 2016 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11% of civil engineers (of which structural engineering is a subset) are women. There is also evidence that women leave the profession in greater numbers than men – one in four female engineers leave the field after age 30, compared to only one in 10 male engineers, according to the Society of Women Engineers.

A committee of  the Structural Engineering Association of Northern California (SEAONC) the Structural Engineering, Engagement, and Equity (SE3) Project was created in 2015 to address this state of affairs. In 2016, the SE3 Project conducted a survey to assess conditions in the profession and garner an understanding of factors that contribute to a lack of diversity in the profession and low engagement among all engineers. The group’s first Symposium, entitled ‘Listen, Assess, Change,’ used the survey data to ground and energize a series of discussions about current practice and strategies for change.

Listening to the Evidence

The centerpiece of the event was the presentation of the results from the group’s 2016 survey. These results were illuminating, offering a number of striking findings that shed light on specific conditions getting in the way of increased engagement for all engineers and potentially leading to higher rates of departure for women in the profession. Some key findings:

1.     Those in charge think they’re doing a better job at managing than their staff does.

The survey found that principals were 43% more likely than those in all other positions to “agree” or “strongly agree” that expectations for advancement were clearly communicated and less likely to feel than more management training is needed in their own firms.

2.     Mentorship makes a big difference.

Over half of all respondents indicated that they had at least one mentor who strongly influenced their career. 83% of these respondents reported being either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their career advancement/trajectory, while of respondents who reported that they did not have a mentor, only 67% reported being either “satisfied” or “very satisfied”.

3.     There is a significant gender pay gap.

The survey found a notable difference in pay between men and women, one that increasingly widened with more years of experience and in more senior positions. The most extreme pay gap was present for principals, with men making $52,000 more on average than women.

4.     There is a stigma towards those who care for children and take advantage of flexibility benefits.

Although 51% of respondents had children, the survey indicated a stigma associated with employees who care for children and a disinclination to use flexibility benefits. For example, only 19% of respondents reported that they had taken time off for parental leave.

This data creates a strong argument for making changes to practice in order to increase engagement and correct for gender inequities. As part of their survey presentation, the SE3 group offered a set of best practices that included more management training, increased programming to foster mentorship, annual pay audits to correct for pay discrepancies between genders, and initiatives to empower staff to use flexibility benefits.

Much of the SE3 findings dovetailed productively with the results of the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey. I shared this relevant data at the SE3 Symposium as part of a presentation on the work of Equity by Design. Like the SE3 survey, the 2016 EQiA survey found that mentorship had positive correlations with  the satisfaction and career success of architects, especially women. The EQiA survey findings also indicated a significant gender pay gap across all levels of practice, like the SE3 survey, and bolstered this finding with data about negotiation practices: equal numbers of male and female respondents reported negotiating over salary. This result makes it clear that the pay gap data cannot be explained simply by saying that women don’t negotiate.

These similar results from two allied fields begin to create a broader picture of the conditions of practice within the AEC industry, and illustrate the need for change in both fields to achieve equity.

Assessing Practice and Envisioning Change

At the Symposium, panel discussions and presentations enriched as well as enlarged the picture of current practice offered by the SE3 data. The opening keynote speaker, Maryann Phipps, President of Estructure, spoke about her own experience as a pioneering woman in structural engineering and offered some thoughts about the future of the profession. 

A panel entitled ‘Assess’ focused on the experiences of four practicing professionals. Many of their stories spoke to the need for more flexibility in practice and the challenges of balancing personal life and career, whether as a parent or as a single person. Joel Villamil, Senior Associate at Marx Okubo Associates, spoke about his decision to leave traditional practice for a more flexible position in development consulting that would allow him and his wife to more easily co-parent their three small children. Janiele Maffei, Chief Mitigation Officer of the California Earthquake Authority, recounted her decision to work as a sole practitioner while her children were young. Meanwhile, Emily Guglielmo, Principal at Martin/Martin, Inc., related her thoughts on work-life balance as a managing principal and mother of three children under ten. Taryn Williams, Senior Project Manager at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, shared her experience taking a three month sabbatical to recover from burn-out and reassess her career goals and trajectory.

The closing panel, entitled ‘Change’, offered a way forward: Three change makers shared their expertise and offered strategies that attendees could implement at the firm level to move towards increased equity and engagement. Krista Looza, Associate Principal and Regional Office Manager at Buehler & Buehler, Inc. spoke about empowering her junior staff to contribute to management decisions. Saska Dennis van-Dijl, Principal Consultant at Cameron MacAllister and member of the Equity by Design core team, emphasized the importance of making the business case for diversity to firm leaders and clients. Emily Loper, Policy Manager at the Bay Area Council, shared workplace policies that can increase equity, like pay audits to correct for gendered discrepancies in pay.

Together, the SE3 survey data, the stories shared by current practitioners, and the strategies for change relayed by experts resulted in an inspiring event that offered a variety of ideas to both individual and firms who want to work to increase engagement and equity in structural engineering. More work is needed, but the SE3 Project has offered an inaugural vision and strategy to assist structural engineers in moving forward with that work.

EQxD Curated Collection for A'17 Orlando - What's in it for me?

By Rosa Sheng, AIA

Why should I attend A'17 AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando?

I have been in many conversations the last few months with Architects, AIA Members, and the AEC community at large on this very question. There have been many critiques about the "EVENT" (formerly known as the "AIA Convention" nearly since it's original inception). The Keynote line up has been inconsistent from year to year and most recently under scrutiny for the sequence and representation of presenters. The continuing education programs are still predominately driven vendor content at the prime hours of the event while member authored seminars are relegated to the earliest and latest slots of the day. The Expo floor itself is an overwhelming scale of products, services, and more programming - at times bordering on information overload. 

At a point where there are many conferences and learning opportunities to attend, what is the value proposition for AIA members and professionals working in the built environment to attend A'17? In short many have asked, What's in it for me?

Equity by Design Convention Programs - Year 3

I have attended a few "AIA Conventions" in my early professional career. They weren't memorable, except for perhaps a few Keynote speakers that I was interested in hearing; or keeping up with my continuing education in a "one stop shop" mode; or perhaps experiencing the architecture/urban design of the host city.

However, in recent years, since the formation of Equity by Design, the AIA annual gathering has transformed into an entirely different opportunity with greater meaning and intent. We realized that in order to get our message out to a greater audience about Equity's importance to the future of Architecture, we needed to be present and engaged with members in a physical setting. We saw the need, so we submitted continuing education workshops and seminars with content of relevance to today's member needs at multiple levels. The AIA National (former Convention) Conference became a unique opportunity to interact with fellow members about the issues that mattered the most - talent retention, engagement vs. burnout, work/life flexibility, transparent promotion/pay equity, and leadership training - discovering new ways to think about the future of practice in Architecture, and develop a supporting "tribe" of like minded champions to support their professional goals while discovering their personal passions.

We are very excited that for the 3rd year in a row, Equity by Design will be hosting programming at the A'17 Conference on Architecture in Orlando. See below for the 3 official program opportunities to join us in conversation about equitable practice.

(WE304) EQxD Hackathon: Architecture and the Era of Connection

4/26/2017   1:00 PM - 5:00 PM   Room W207C  (**Additional fee beyond general registration)

 2016 EQxD Hackathon 

2016 EQxD Hackathon 

One of the most unique and talked-about pre-conference workshops, we have developed a reputation within the Conference for developing a game changing learning experience that has yet to be rivaled.  In it's third year, we celebrate the chance to tinker, ideate and hack at the intersection of design, technology, and equitable practice. We have also fine tuned our "UX" aka User Experience by engaging with the teams before during and after the event to make it the best participant engagement event at A'17 - Conference on Architecture. After the event, please join us for the Post-Hack Happy Hour where we will recap the event and announce the winners! Click here for more info

ARCHITECT LIVE - Interview w/ Equity by Design - EXPO HALL

4/27/2017   3:30 PM - 4:00 PM - EXPO HALL - ARCHITECT BOOTH

 ARCHITECT LIVE

ARCHITECT LIVE

Special Interview w/ Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning and Matrices Panel - Architect Live (#3863) in the exhibit hall is set up to be provocative, interactive educational programming with the energy and the format of a live talk show studio. The segments are exciting and fast-paced, at a maximum of 30 minutes long. We publish the schedule to all attendees so that they can come view as a live audience. Expo Pass/Registration to attend. In addition, the content is streamed live on http://www.architectonline.com/ and any presentation materials will be published there as well. And after it’s streamlined, the interview will be hosted on the ARCHITECT site in the video gallery.

(FR306) Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning, and Matrices in Action 

4/28/2017   3:30 PM - 4:30 PM    Room W307B

Equity is the ethos of our work. It is the ability to recognize differences and provide fair access to opportunities. At this session, we'll review the results of the most comprehensive research on equity in architecture. You'll leave with strategies that promote equity via professional development and grassroots organizational change. As you'll see, it's in your firm's best interest. 
Equitable practice promotes the recruitment and retention of the most diverse talent while also building stronger, successful, sustainable practices. Using findings from AIA San Francisco's (AIASF's) 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey, you'll develop targeted strategies for promoting equity at various career milestones. 

 

EQxD CURATED COLLECTION

"There are too many seminars and I can't find the one's that I find meaningful or relevant to my career development."

To help solve this challenge last year, we also encouraged other members in our equity "tribe" to submit programs to address equitable practice. This year, to shorten your search, we went a step further, search through the ENTIRE schedule and expanded the EQxD Curated Collection of programs to those we viewed as having relevance to our larger discussion about equity's impact on design and the built environment. We are please to share our picks for A'17 if you have yet to decide on what you will attend.

(WE110) Creating Impact as a Citizen Architect

4/26/2017   8:00 AM - 12:00 PM (**Additional fee beyond general registration)

The impact architects can have on community leadership is immeasurable, from providing insight into community planning and architectural review to introducing and influencing critical legislation. This skills-based training workshop will help you become a better citizen architect through collaboration, innovation, and shared resources in a highly interactive setting. A powerful keynote on the "Impact of Public Dialogue as Citizen Architects" as well as a panel discussion and peer-to-peer breakout groups will inspire you to head back to your community and make substantial, effective contributions.

(TH107) Design for Well-being: Holistic Approaches to Homelessness

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

As US cities struggle to serve and house homeless individuals and families, San Francisco has led the way in providing innovative solutions. The architect's role is at the core of this effort, demonstrating design's impact in bringing about positive social change. Join us for this seminar to hear from representatives of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, who will discuss progressive public policy strategies. Plus, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and David Baker Architects will share their award-winning design responses. 

(TH109) Shaping Communities Through Design Review Committees

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Whether you take a prominent place at the table or work quietly in the background, your role in shaping communities extends beyond any individual project. In this session, you'll explore the ins and outs of serving on design review committees, commissions, and boards. 

AIA has long supported and celebrated the work of "citizen architects." Such positions, handled well, offer you the chance to connect with the community and promote your knowledge and expertise. 

Join this discussion of best practices and learn how to secure opportunities for a rewarding experience. 

(TH114) Reinventing Public Housing

4/27/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

The deplorable living conditions found in 22 San Francisco public housing developments are a consequence of neglected maintenance, a lack of supportive services, and flaws in design. The San Francisco Housing Authority's radical response—selling off its housing stock to private developers and housing providers—offers lessons and opportunities for architects and designers. Under the action taken through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Rental Assistance Demonstration program, buyers will maintain the properties as permanent low-income housing. Join us for this seminar to examine the rehabilitation, redesign, and infill of basic community facilities necessary to support healthy community life.

NEW! (TH201) Pro Series: Solutions by Design: Architecture as a Catalyst for Social Change

4/27/2017   2:30 PM - 4:00 PM      Room W304B

How does architecture impact the social fabric of our communities?  How can architecture be a catalyst for solving community challenges, driving social change, or creating engagement and progress?  How does equity in design impact communities?  A high-powered panel of architects who are pushing the boundaries in these and other areas of social and cultural concern discuss how architecture and architects can affect the social structure of communities across the globe and have measurable and practical effects on the way we live and interact with society. Join Rosa Sheng, AIA who will moderate a Keynoter speakers and practitioners who are making positive change in their projects and practice.

 

(TH202) Blind Spots: Multisensory Placemaking for the Blind and Visually Impaired

4/27/2017   2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

How can we design delightful architecture that doesn't presume or privilege sight? What are best practices for design that appropriately address the visual and nonvisual needs of the blind and visually impaired? Explore how you can go beyond mere compliance with ADA codes to address the opportunities—not just the challenges—of the visually impaired. Using the new 40,000 GSF LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco as an example, this session will address issues related to acoustics, lighting, and technology. You'll also explore general strategies for visual and non-visual design. While complying with ADA codes is necessary, you have the opportunity to produce designs that are not overtly adaptive or condescending. By attending this session, you'll discover how to give all users of your spaces—particularly the blind and visually impaired—a sense of delight. 

(TH213) Architecture for a More Sustainable Africa

4/27/2017   2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

The human population explosion: crisis or opportunity? The numbers are stark, with two billion additional urban inhabitants expected by 2030. The fast-growing cities of Africa, Asia, and Latin America will feel the greatest impact. In this session, you'll see how architecture can improve the social, environmental, and economic well-being of these cities. You'll examine projects including Niger's Dandaji Library, a building with an adaptive reuse design featured in AIA's 2016 Emerging Professionals Exhibit. You'll also see architecture acting as a vehicle for sustainable development and prosperity when it emphasizes affordability, local materials, good governance, and community engagement. Join your colleagues for an inspiring discussion of architecture at its best, as we strive to build a better world for future generations.

(TH312) Women in Green and Why Diversity for Design Matters

4/27/2017   4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

This spring marks the 10-year anniversary of a pivotal publication: Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design. What did it tell us—and what have we learned in the years since? A decade ago, the study's authors explored how and why women were leading in sustainable design more than in the field generally. Now, we'll examine the status of diversity in design, the role of sustainability, and firms' efforts to build more-diverse practices that are relevant to the work of the future. Hear from one of the authors, other leaders in the field, and your own peers and colleagues as we discuss a topic that remains timely and relevant to all of our work.

(FR106) Engaging a Diverse Workforce: Supporting Employees Living with Disability

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Our profession is at its best when it reflects society's full diversity. People with disabilities make up a significant percentage of our population and contribute to our field's innovation and success. Are firms taking the right steps to support these employees? In this seminar, you'll join a discussion about effective ways firms can promote inclusion and support differently-abled professionals . You'll hear from a panel of differently-abled colleagues, and learn how simple strategies like flexible schedules and attention to mobility issues can make a tremendous difference to your peers'—and your practice's—success. 

(FR109) Designing Environments for Low Vision: Tools & Techniques 

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Low vision is becoming an increasingly prominent design concern in America—one that presents architects with opportunities and responsibilities. In this interactive session, you'll examine best practices and big failures, and even participate in some problem-solving, as you learn the latest tools and strategies. An architect, lighting engineer, and optometrist from the NIBS Low Vision Design Committee will share state-of-the-art techniques you can apply in your work. With low vision already affecting 17 million people in this country's aging population, your practice is sure to benefit from their insights.

(FR110) The Art of Community Engagement: Lessons from the Frontlines

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Contentious public projects exist everywhere. The disgruntled citizen or outspoken neighborhood group can strike fear in the heart of clients that aren't prepared to confront conflict. As a design professional, you're charged with finding consensus among increasingly diverse user groups. What fundamental strategies can you employ to overcome stakeholder resistance and foster a deeper sense of trust and community cohesion? Join us for this panel discussion to learn about researching your community audience, finding the community champions, leveraging media, and other valuable tricks of the trade.

(FR112) What Architects Need to Know About Disasters and Risk Reduction

4/28/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Why do buildings fail during natural disasters and what will the future of architecture look like in the face of increasing risk? After 10 years of disaster response and recovery nationwide, the AIA Disaster Assistance Program is sharing emerging research and personal lessons from the third edition of the AIA Handbook for Disaster Assistance. Join us for this seminar to hear from those who've seen first-hand why buildings fail, how risk is increasing, the impacts of land use and building codes, and more. Stories from the field will convey a changing landscape for the practice—the impact of natural hazards and the pitfalls and opportunities in practice and community engagement.

(FR319) Relieving the Stress of Pediatric Emergency Care

4/28/2017   3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

A trip to the emergency room is stressful for anyone, particularly children. How can architects help ease a child's mind by making the experience less tense and chaotic? One firm found a way, partnering with a health care institution and its Family Advisory Council for an innovative pro bono project. The result? An interactive multimedia tool that helps familiarize kids with the hospital environment. Join us to hear how the participants stretched their skills to enhance and promote well-being among our community's most vulnerable members—and consider how you might do the same.

(FR406) Improving the City: Designing an Active Streetscape in Affordable Housing

4/28/2017   5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

What's one of the more significant opportunities overlooked in the design of high-density, affordable housing? It's staring us in the face—right there on the ground floor. The commercial ground floor can make a big difference in creating vibrant neighborhoods that serve residents, businesses, and cities. In this seminar, a cross-disciplinary team of architects and engineers will present key findings of their work with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development along with the Design Trust for Public Spaces. With this conversation, you'll hear directly from the team and client behind the newly published "Design Guidelines for Ground Floor Retail." Take a front-row seat and learn to put their tools to work for you

(SA106) Engage, Train, and Retain: Cultivating Leaders

4/29/2017   7:00 AM - 8:00 AM

Nurturing new talent is crucial to a firm's long-term success. How do you retain that talent and develop emerging professionals into AEC industry leaders? In this session, you'll hear from colleagues with a proven record of success. Join us to analyze how three programs—representing architecture, engineering, and construction firms—elevate emerging professionals and collaborate across the AEC industry. Through case studies and candid conversations, you'll learn very specific strategies for building a leadership culture that meets the changing needs of new talent in your firm's specific setting. 

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Transcending the Glass Ceiling

With less than a week to AIASF's 4th Symposium — Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq. shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Pinch Points session.

Transcending the Glass Ceiling - Redefining What It Takes to Succeed

#EQxDTranscend

The glass ceiling has long been cited as the ultimate problem we face in leadership advancement. However, this idea of a single invisible barrier at the cusp of upper leadership is no longer accurate or useful. There are a spectrum of obstacles throughout a professional’s career and we must work continually to overcome them. This session will look at this spectrum and explore strategies for moving our careers forward. Session leaders will share their experiences and the tactics they have employed to achieve career advancement. Participants will share their own approaches and ideas and together the group will produce a playbook of strategies that everyone can apply to their careers.

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

To move the profession more swiftly towards a culture that is diverse and inclusive.  

 Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

How have the Equity pinch points and/or dynamics informed your session?

Our pinch point is the “glass ceiling,” but we felt that was a concept that is no longer useful.  People encounter glass ceilings at every level of their career.  Each time you get through one, then there is a different landscape and another glass ceiling.  So we felt that “glass ceiling” was a concept that we need to move beyond.  The situation is more like a progression of landscapes with different rules.  The important thing is to keep moving through them, and the more quickly you understand the landscape or obstacle, the quicker you can move through to the next landscape.

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team?

A-HA, we came up with the idea of creating a Playbook of how to get past certain barriers and obstacles on one’s career path.  The journey is important, but strategy can make a big difference.  The sooner you can understand your landscape, the sooner you can identify pathways through.  We can use others’ experiences to learn strategies for getting past particular barriers, to go to the next level.  Community service, additional credentials, specialization, awards, and service-leadership positions are all strategies that we have utilized to rise above a crowd.  We hope that we can send participants home with a Playbook that they can share with others, and that we can develop and enhance.  

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Hackathon - Mentorship Re-designed

With less than a week to AIASF's 4th Symposium — Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Prairna Gupta-Garg, AIA shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Career Dynamics session.

Hackathon - Mentorship Re-designed

#EQxDMentorship

Mentoring is important for professional growth at any career stage, from learning the ropes to navigating choices later on. Unfortunately, mentorship can reinforce inequity as mentors and mentees are often drawn to people of similar ethnicity, race, and gender. Mentorship can also be too limited in scope, restricted to advice when the mentor can be most powerful as champion or sponsor, advocating for the mentee when promotion or hiring decisions are made. In this session we will ‘redesign mentorship’ through hands-on exercises and small group discussions. Together we will create a tool to provide effective professional development for everyone.

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

 Prairna Gupta-Garg, AIA — Facilitator

Prairna Gupta-Garg, AIA — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

I am passionate about the mission of the organization and feel that many of us talk about the issues facing our professions but very few actually take the necessary action. Being an action-oriented person, I saw the role of the facilitator not only as a thought leader, but that of an action leader — transforming intangible thoughts to tangible action items that can be adopted by the community as a solution to the problem.

How have the Equity pinch points and/or dynamics informed your session? 

Our group discussed the pinch point of ‘paying your dues’ and its relationship to a ‘re-designed mentorship’. How do you train people but also give them a realistic sense of where they are now (important to mentors), and where they are going (important to mentees) in developing a successful tool providing professional development for everyone irrespective of their gender, race and/or experience. 

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team?

The biggest ‘a-ha’ that emerged from working with my team was the concept of ‘sponsorship’ i.e. having someone within your company who champions you and your growth when promotion decisions are being made; and how it is different than traditional mentorship.

 

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Graphing the Work-Life Equation

With a few short weeks until AIASF's 4th Symposium — Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Patricia Hansen, Associate AIA shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Career Dynamics session.

Graphing the Work-Life Equation: Different Approaches to Success

#EQxDWorkLife

From balance to flexibility to integration, there are many ways of conceptualizing the relationship between work and our personal lives. How do we develop successful, personalized strategies for making it work? Session leaders will share how they’ve set goals for balance, flexibility, or integration, and the strategies they’ve adopted as a result. Then participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their own approach to the work/life equation and discuss how it has (or has not) worked for them. Working together, participants will map these approaches to work/life, highlighting connections between individual goals, personal and professional context, and long-term success.

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

 Patricia Hansen, Associate AIA — Facilitator

Patricia Hansen, Associate AIA — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator? 

I am very supportive of the effort to create more equity in the workplace and see it as a crusade that I want to help drive. I had just joined EQxD prior to becoming a facilitator and it seemed like an excellent way to jump into the movement with both feet. Additionally, I am new to the profession and saw it as a great opportunity to network with amazing individuals who care about some of the same issues.  

 

How have the Equity pinch points and/or dynamics informed your session?

Our session is all about the difficulty of integrating personal and professional life. This relationship is dramatically affected by crucial pinch points throughout one’s career and is definitely a major issue for most workers. Whether it is getting married, starting a family, caring for parents, volunteering, or any other personal interest our session recognizes the importance of allowing time for these activities in order for employees to lead an engaged, happy life. Not allowing for this flexibility causes burnout and encourages individuals to leave the industry.

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team?

One of the concepts that we arrived at early on in our discussions was that there is no such thing as Work/Life BALANCE. The interchange between professional and personal life is messy, unpredictable, and overlapping. It certainly is not some kind of perfectly balanced teeter-totter with work on one side and the rest of life on the other. Living a multifaceted life necessitates a constant give and take between work and everything else that is going on. In the end, it becomes much more about flexibility and integration of the different parts of life rather than a balance. This subtle distinction between work/life balance and work/life integration really surprised me initially because people so often use the terms interchangeably. The slight differences really affect one’s perception on the issue.

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Disrupting Implicit Bias

With a less than 2 weeks until AIASF's 4th Symposium — Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Patricia G. Alarcón, RA shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Career Dynamics session.

Disrupting Impicit Bias in Design and Practice

#EQxDDisruptBias

Everyone has implicit bias. We develop our biases through our environment, the people we engage with, and the culture we grow up in. These interactions shape the expectations we have for ourselves, colleagues, and even potential clients. Thus, bias can have a major impact on the design process and desired outcomes in our profession. Additionally, reflecting on our own “Bias Blind Spot” is critical to building empathy and foster a culture of open communication. We will explore implicit bias in design and practice through research and storytelling. We will examine our “Bias Blind Spots” in small groups, and share resources to increase our awareness of bias in our workplace and foster strategies for tangible change.

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

 

  Patricia G. Alarcón, RA  — Facilitator

Patricia G. Alarcón, RA — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

I have been following the work of the AIA EQxD committee for some time. However, due to limited time for extra-curriculars outside of work and family responsibilities, I have been mostly cheering from the sidelines. Being a facilitator for the upcoming symposium gives me a chance to dive in and contribute to the cause in a very real and concrete way. I also saw it as an opportunity to deepen the discussion with women from different parts of the country, with different backgrounds and experiences than my own — a real community building/expanding opportunity.

How have the Equity pinch points and/or dynamics informed your session? 

Our topic is implicit bias in the workplace and it really can impact every facet of our career trajectory, from initial hiring, to retention and advancement. Bias transcends all the pinch points, and that’s something to keep in mind and work against regardless of where we are in our professional trajectory.

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team?

It’s easy to find bias against you, where you feel victimized because of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Perhaps harder and more poignant is to reflect on one’s personally held biases. Holding that mirror up to ourselves is just as important a part of the conversation… that’s been one of the most interesting parts of the discussion among our group.

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Being a Change Agent

With a few short weeks until AIASF's 4th Symposium — Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Neelanjana Sen, AIA shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Career Dynamics session.

Being a Change Agent — Tools, Techniques and Scalability

#EQxDChangeAgent

How do the industry’s most influential change agents move from identifying a problem to making a lasting impact? Workshop participants will be invited to learn from the experiences of thought leaders who have shifted the status quo in their firms, academia, and the national architectural community. These leaders will guide participants through tools and techniques while offering them an opportunity to put those skills into practice in a hands-on workshop. Attendees will understand how to: frame a problem, engage others to find solutions and leverage ideas to implement change.

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

 Neelanjana Sen, AIA

Neelanjana Sen, AIA

I was interested for two main reasons. I am navigating my career and finding ways of implementing change along the way — filling in gaps I see in the workplace and the profession in general. Also, having an opportunity to be immersed in the ideation process was something I was looking forward to. This immersion helps new ideas flow, and you benefit from in-depth learning about how others around you have navigated their careers and gone beyond to impact their professions in a positive way.

The second reason for me being a facilitator is to interact with a fantastic set of professionals. I came out of the last symposium energized, and the next instinctive thing for me to do was to be more involved!

How have the Equity pinch points and/or dynamics informed your session?

The session I am facilitating is about being a change agent. Thought leaders in this session have contributed tremendously in shifting the status quo in various equity pinch points. The survey results emphasize the need to continue this work at a more grassroots level. Imagine each attendee of this session being equipped to bring change in the dysfunctions they know or have identified in the session…. that can ultimately change the pinch points we see in the survey results.

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team.

For me, it was interesting to realize that whether you are implementing change in your early career or trying to peek beyond the glass ceiling, we need the ability to scale the problem and take it from its nascent phase to full completion. Once we identify specific tools and techniques for this scalability, this mindset can be implemented in any circumstance we come across in our career and life.

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Culture with Intent

With a couple weeks until AIASF's 4th Symposium — Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Nancy Alexander shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Career Dynamics session.

Culture with Intent: Recognizing and Shaping your Office Culture

#EQxDCulture

It is said that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”.  Office culture matters – in producing quality work, in defining and expressing a brand, in employee retention. Knowingly or not, we live, breathe, and feel our office’s culture every day. Each office has its own values, traditions, ways of communicating and leading. Understanding your culture helps you gauge fit and manage performance. Through panelists’ examples, guided exercises and break-out groups, you will identify the hallmarks of your office culture, evaluate it through the lens of your personal values, address any incongruity, and develop strategies to effect change if needed.

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

 Nancy Alexander — Facilitator

Nancy Alexander — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

Facilitation is all about drawing out the group wisdom, finding the common threads, and seeing a co-created product emerge. It’s one of the most fun things I get to do! And as possibly the only non-architect in the crew, despite decades of learning about architecture, architects, and practice, I combine an outsider’s perspective with huge appreciation for what you all do and the impact your work has on the world.  

How have the Equity pinch points and/or dynamics informed your session?

I was surprised that the survey so vividly captured elements of firm culture that matter, in particular: alignment between firm values and personal values; the work relationships that develop as a result of that alignment; and individual control, autonomy, and involvement in decision-making. Understanding these points, I think, affirmed the direction our team was intuitively going in, and it is giving us something of a framework and starting point for the facilitated workshop.

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team?

This is not a new a-ha, but a renewed one: you architects work a lot! Also you are super-smart and very skilled at processing the big picture and the details simultaneously. It’s always a privilege to work with architects (and dare I say, especially women architects). This team, like many teams of women architects that I’ve observed, is driven by the client (i.e. the audience) and the project goals and not egos.

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: ADVOCACY: Define | Discover | Do

With a couple weeks until AIASF's 4th Symposium — Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Ellen Fuson, AIA, LEED Green Associate shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Career Dynamics session.

ADVOCACY: Define | Discover | Do

#EQxDAdvocacy

Advocacy can occur at a number of scales, from advocating for ourselves, to fostering environments where everyone can speak up, to working collectively nationally or profession-wide.  In this break-out, session leaders will present case studies that illustrate these different scales of advocacy.  . Through participatory exercises attendees will discover ways to test and implement advocacy at each of these scales. The session will conclude with a conversation about insights gained through the case studies and exercises, leaving participants better equipped to actively advocate in small ways and large.

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

  Ellen Fuson, AIA, LEED Green Associate — Facilitator

Ellen Fuson, AIA, LEED Green Associate — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

I am interested in being a facilitator because I am passionate about promoting productive, positive, and disruptive dialog about equity in architecture.  As a previous attendee of the symposium, I am aware of how provocative the day can be: filled with innovative thinkers in a format that encourages interaction. This year’s theme — Metrics, Meaning, and Matrices — is right up my ally. I’m very inspired by EQxD’s methodology that data is power.  Because of this approach, EQxD has made visible some of the complex hurdles that are present over the course of a career.  In order to implement change, using metrics empowers us to track progress and find new meaning in transforming the culture of our profession. 

How have the Equity pinch points and/or dynamics informed your session?

Often times, equity starts with advocacy. Advocacy is meaningful on an individual level — negotiating for yourself for a promotion and advocating for additional services on a project are just a couple of examples.  But advocacy goes way beyond the personal and it can also be structural. When recontextualized, it has a role in establishing firm-wide policies that promote equitable practices, thus affecting real change in architecture, and the way we do business.  Being a designer today in the Bay Area is very exciting: thought leaders from a variety of industries and backgrounds are bringing innovative ideas and energy to the area. I look forward to what the future may hold. 

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team?

Yes! Working with the thought leaders has helped me to think beyond my personal experience with advocacy, and reframe advocacy in terms of the big picture. How can firms play a role in creating a culture that promotes systems of advocacy? How can advocacy be a tool on an industry level to promote equity? The thought leaders come from a variety of backgrounds, which help to challenge traditional modes of exploration. Whenever we speak, I learn something new or see advocacy from a different angle. 

 

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Firm Strategies for Implementing Change

It's October! With less than a month away from AIASF's 4th Symposium - Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, EQxD Blog will be featuring "behind the scenes" interviews with the facilitators of the Symposium Break Out Sessions for Career Dynamics and Pinch Points. Nicolette Mastrangelo, AIA shares her insights on working with the Thought Leaders to shape this Career Dynamics session.

Equity in Practice: Firm Strategies for Implementing Change.

#EQxDFirmStrategies

Recognizing that the individuals who make up a firm are its most valuable asset, many of today’s top firms, large and small, have made strides towards building more equitable workplaces in order to sustain lasting and competitive businesses. Four professionals in the industry will discuss specific strategies related to flexibility, performance review and promotion, recruitment and retention, and mentorship/sponsorship and advocacy. They will examine successes and lessons learned, and how these strategies can be implemented in order to positively influence equity in the profession of architecture. 

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

 Nicolette Mastrangelo, AIA - Facilitator 

Nicolette Mastrangelo, AIA - Facilitator 

As a young architect, I am passionate about issues of equity in the industry. My peers and I confront a sort of systemic change beginning to happen day in and day out at our firms and in our work. We are not only involved in the discussion but actively seeking out ways to participate in and shape innovative practices. The opportunity to collaborate with industry thought leaders on the subject immediately appealed to me. These women have some amazing stories to share and lessons learned. I’m hoping to share some of my own unique thoughts on how the association — in addition to employers and employees — can help shape the future of best practices and policies in the equitable architecture office.

 

How have the Career Pinch Points and/or Dynamics informed your session? 

The equity pinch points and dynamics act as a road map for what firms can do and are doing. When firms recognize the individual needs of employees at different stages in their careers, leadership can respond and address a variety of situations. A one-size-fits-all solution is not an equitable approach. Firm leaders need to drop the mantra, “If we did it for you, we’d have to do it for everyone.” Pluralism is the future of equitable architectural practice and the key to understanding the demographics within your firm (age, gender, leadership, etc.).  

 

Are there any a-ha’s that emerged from the process of working with your team?

There is an untapped outlet for advocacy at the association level. In addition to the bottom-up and top-down approaches being explored in architecture offices, the association could have significant advantages in influencing the entire AEC industry by making equity in practice less about changing individuals minds and more about changing systems. 

 

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors for their dedication and support. We look forward to seeing you there!