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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?

INSPIRE% [7]: Let Go of Fear

By Michael D. Thomas

1. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?  

My name is Michael Thomas.  I am a labor and employment attorney with the law firm Ogletree Deakins in San Francisco.  My practice focuses on class actions and employment litigation.  I am also part of our Pay Equity group and I conduct workplace trainings on implicit bias and diversity. 

2. Why did you choose to study law?  

I grew up a poor, African-American male raised by a single mother.  At a young age, I knew that I was different because of my race and class.  I also know now that people often viewed me and I often viewed myself based on stereotypes and biases inherited through socialization and from prior generations.  

Law is a powerful tool to guide society in changing perceptions and beliefs that are formed by stereotypes and biases.  Examples of this in practice include the legal battles to racially integrate the military and schools and legalize interracial marriage and same sex-marriage.  A more recent example is a set of laws designed to correct pay disparities based on race, gender and ethnicity.  

3. What inspires you on a daily basis?  

I am inspired each day by my ability to be curious about my potential.  I strongly believe that to take a step forward, we often have to step back and unlearn what prevented us from moving forward.

Michael, bottom, with his brother.

Michael, bottom, with his brother.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  My grandfather was one of the first African-Americans to integrate the steel mills.  He had to fight racism to do that.  He was also one of the first African-Americans to purchase a home in a certain part of Pittsburgh.  He had to fight racism to do that too.  He spent so much of his life fighting against racism that he became a hard and unemotional man.  My grandfather expected my father to be the same way in order to function in a predominantly white world.  Influenced by my father’s family, I grew up in the same environment where the expectation was that the world was hostile because of my race and I could not show vulnerability.

I was also socialized to assume that “whiteness” was the norm and the standard to follow and strive towards.  I learned at an early age that if I wanted to function and to succeed in society, I had to learn how not to be seen as “black,” how not to reveal or recognize my authentic self, and how to not show vulnerability.  

This strategy was effective at different points in my life.  However, as an adult, to get feedback on how to grow and mature in career, life, and love, I have to understand my authentic self and my needs.  I have had to step back and let go of false beliefs about myself to step up and step forward.  It all begins with being curious about my potential. Remaining curious inspires me.  

4. What are three of your most influential projects and why?

My three most influential projects: 1) developing a Mindful Mentoring Program that connects adults with youth at risk via a mindfulness practice; 2) working with Inclusion Ventures to develop a comprehensive pay equity audit and implicit bias training; and 3) speaking at Inclusion 2.0 on “Diversity, Inclusion and Intergenerational Trauma.”   Why?  All three are creations of my authentic self.

5. What is the greatest challenge/difficulty that you have had to overcome in your professional career?

Learning to let go of fear and beliefs that are limiting. 

6. What do you believe has been one of your greatest accomplishments to date? Why?  

Michael's depiction of himself, practicing yoga.

Michael's depiction of himself, practicing yoga.

I completed a yoga certification training with the Niroga Institute in Oakland, California. Niroga teaches Raja yoga, the yoga of mindfulness. In Raja practice, yoga poses and breathing techniques come together to prepare your body and mind for focus and moment to moment awareness.

Why do I consider this one of my greatest accomplishments?  During my practice of yoga, I stopped to observe my black skin and the physical and mental harm it receives from stereotypes and bias.  It was the first time I can remember that as I made those observations and my mind went into fight or flight mode and I wanted to escape the discomfort, I could not.  Instead, I had to stay in my posture and focus on my breath without reacting. In that experience I learned acceptance and forgiveness, and how to not respond to false thoughts or beliefs.  At that point I was able to direct my attention inward, without judgment or blame.  

Focusing the mind on breathing and bodily sensations through gentle movement activates the prefrontal cortex, or the noticing part of the brain. The noticing part of the brain, when activated by my yoga practice, allows me to observe that I am not my fears or the biases projected by others and myself. It allows for more self-regulation and conscious decision-making in the moment.

Now, after my training in Raja yoga, I can show vulnerability and empathy towards others without fear.  Empathy and vulnerability allow for greater decision-making out of curiosity instead of fear.  Curiosity leads to discomfort.  Discomfort leads to growth and change.

At some point we have to stop blindly moving forward and stop and make courageous decisions to treat ourselves and each other differently even if it means embracing fear and the unknown.  

7. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 24 year-old self?

Don’t be afraid.  You belong.

8. What is the best advice that you ever received and how does that apply today?

BK Bose is the Executive Director of the Niroga Institute.  He frequently asks the question, “What separates you from freedom?”  I think of that question if I feel I am making decisions out of fear and not love or kindness. It allows for better decision-making.

Speaking at Tech Inclusion 2.0 on "Diversity, Inclusion and Intergenerational Trauma."

Speaking at Tech Inclusion 2.0 on "Diversity, Inclusion and Intergenerational Trauma."

9. How do you see the law profession changing in the next 10 years? What would your role be in the future?  

The most important characteristic for lawyers to cultivate will be empathy.  The practice of law focuses on logic and reason.  Both are important.  Both are also devoid of feelings and emotion.  As a result, lawyers often cause harm and lack creativity because we are not using the creative side of our brain.  Empathy is the pathway to creativity.  Creativity is the pathway to innovation.  Innovation will assist lawyers in being of greater service to our clients and to society.  It all begins with empathy.  

10. We have heard that while the general public respects lawyers, they have little knowledge about what they do. Do you have any thoughts about how we can bridge the gap?  

Law school should be more affordable and accessible.  When there are significant barriers to entry, the legal profession becomes exclusive and accessible only to a small portion of the population.  The law should be more accessible for people to either become a lawyer or for people to know a lawyer.  

About our INSPIRE% Contributor:

Michael D. Thomas was a panelist for our EQxDisruptBias Workshop in February 2017. His work as a Lawyer in equitable practice areas such as pay equity, mitigating bias in hiring and promotion processes and his thoughts on mindfulness and healing led us to ask him to contribute to this series. Even though he is practicing in another field, we value advocates for equitable practice and the lessons that we can learn from their journey as well.

Michael is an Associate with the global law firm Ogletree Deakins in their San Francisco office.  He represents employers in all aspects of employment law.  He also works with employers on diversity and pay equity issues.  Michael has studied mindfulness, meditation and yoga with a focus on healing and self-regulation.  Recent publications include “Preventing Workplace Violence by Examining Trauma and the NFL” which incorporates mindfulness, meditation and body awareness in preventing workplace violence, and “How Employers Can Root Out the Influence of Unconscious Bias in Compensation Decisions.”  Recent speaking engagements include: Inclusion 2.0, “Intergenerational Trauma, Diversity and Inclusion;” Tech Inclusion Conference, “Awakening to Inclusion;” Association of Corporate Counsel event at Google, “Best Practices for Promoting Fair Pay;” Kaiser, Continuing Legal Education, “Implicit Bias” panel and lecturer, Berkley School of Law, “Mindfulness to Disrupt Suffering and Bias.”  He has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a J.D. from Boston College.

 

 

Announcing the Metrics Blog Series

#EQxDM3 attendees review key findings from the 2016 Equity in Architecture survey

#EQxDM3 attendees review key findings from the 2016 Equity in Architecture survey

Equity by Design is excited to announce “Metrics”, a new blog series that will unpack and explore findings from the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey. In this series, we’ll cover key findings from the survey, and will also take a deep dive into each of the Career Dynamics and Pinch Points.

Additionally, we’ll provide further resources and reading so that you can learn more about each topic. These in-depth looks at our survey data will be accompanied by interactive graphics, which will allow you to explore our data even further.

“Metrics” posts will occur about once a month (usually on Wednesdays), and are  aligned with this year’s quarterly topics. This will enable us to integrate conversations about survey content into a broader conversation that will be fueled by our quarterly workshops, as well as by other initiatives, including: the Inspire% series, the Equitable Practice blog series, the ACSA blog series, and #EQxDActions (more on this next week!).

For more info on these quarterly topics, please see our post from earlier in the month.

Winter: Disrupt Bias

During the winter quarter, we’ll explore how to disrupt implicit bias. We’ll learn about the unconscious biases we all carry and leverage techniques to overcome our own assumptions about others.

Concurrent with this exploration, the “Metrics” series will provide insight into three issues that are commonly linked with implicit bias: the demographics of the profession, pay equity, and the Glass Ceiling. Also look out for a post on “Key Findings,” which will provide a broad overview of the survey findings.

Spring: Articulate Values

Spring quarter will provide an opportunity to reflect on how to articulate the value that architectural education,training, and the practice of architecture provide to society. We’ll consider the issue from a variety of points of view, exploring divergent career paths, design activism, and the value of professional licensure.

The “Metrics” series will provide context for these discussions by providing in-depth analyses of the following issues: “Education,” “Licensure,” and “Beyond Architecture.”

Summer: Chart Your Path

During the summer our attention will turn to charting your career path and do some serious thinking about how we as individuals organize our lives to achieve goals and stay connected within the profession.

To aid in these explorations, the “Metrics” series will provide analyses of Work-Life Flexibility as it relates to all respondents, and explore the experiences and the challenges of being a Working Caregiver.

Fall: Design Culture

We’ll close out the year with a conversation about the culture of our practices, schools, and profession as a whole by looking into the ways in which we can create culture that fosters creativity, design thinking and inclusivity.

The “Metrics” series will cover two issues that are often deeply linked to culture: Finding the Right Fit and Professional Development. The topics will allow us to explore issues like how “fit” is measured, and correlates with professional success, how cultural satisfaction and professional relationships are linked to success, and how fostering a culture of mentorship and transparency can lead to career satisfaction and increased retention.


We’re looking forward to your feedback as this series develops. Please let us know if you have a burning research question, if you have a great resource to share on an upcoming topic, or if you’d like to contribute a guest post on one of these topics!

#EQxDisruptBias : EQxD "U" Workshop #1 Disrupting Implicit Bias on 2/8

Disrupting Implicit Bias: Workshop Summary (#EQxDisruptBias)

About the Workshop:

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.

Workshop Format:

Rosa Sheng, AIA will provide a brief intro on Implicit Bias to frame the discussion. 2017 EQxD Co-Chair Julia Mandell, AIA will be the moderator of the panel with a fresh roster of panelists to provide diverse insights on how to Disrupt Implicit Bias in their work. Afterwards, workshop attendees will break out into small groups for an exercise to rethink how we approach bias in our daily interactions at work, home, in our communities and beyond.

 

Meet the Panelists for #EQxDisruptBias

Helen Bronston - Associate and Architecture Discipline Lead at SmithGroupJJR

Helen_Bronston_P8472_HI_RES - crop for AIA EQxD.JPG

Helen serves as Director of Architecture for the San Francisco office of SmithGroupJJR, where she is an associate.  Raised in Wisconsin, she holds a BA in Anthropology from Yale, and an MArch from Harvard, where she was awarded the AIA Adams Medal. Over her 26-year career she has worked exclusively for non-profit educational, healthcare, and governmental organizations, for that is where she has felt she can do the most good for the greatest number of people. She is currently serving on the board of directors for Joan’s House, a newly-forming shelter for transgender women who have been incarcerated. Her experience transitioning gender as an architect was profiled in the San Francisco Business Times on 12 June 2015. Unable to leave school behind, Helen is also very slowly writing a PhD dissertation in History of Architecture at UC Berkeley.

 

Sandra Vivanco - Principal, A+D, Architecture+Design

Sandra is founding principal of A+D, Architecture+Design, a San Francisco firm characterized by design excellence as well as innovative community-based processes. Published widely, Vivanco is sought as a Latino cultural expert with profound knowledge of modern art and architecture in Latin America. A Professor of Architecture and Diversity Studies at CCA, she is a Mission resident, an avid dancer, a mother of two public school graduates and is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

 

Michael D. Thomas, Esq. - Associate, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Michael is an Associate with the global law firm Ogletree Deakins in their San Francisco office.  He represents employers in all aspects of employment law.  He also works with employers on diversity and pay equity issues.  Michael has studied mindfulness, meditation and yoga with a focus on healing and self-regulation.  Recent publications include “Preventing Workplace Violence by Examining Trauma and the NFL” which incorporates mindfulness, meditation and body awareness in preventing workplace violence, and “How Employers Can Root Out the Influence of Unconscious Bias in Compensation Decisions.”  Recent speaking engagements include: Inclusion 2.0, “Intergenerational Trauma, Diversity and Inclusion;” Tech Inclusion Conference, “Awakening to Inclusion;” Association of Corporate Counsel event at Google, “Best Practices for Promoting Fair Pay;” Kaiser, Continuing Legal Education, “Implicit Bias” panel and lecturer, Berkley School of Law, “Mindfulness to Disrupt Suffering and Bias.”  He has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a J.D. from Boston College.

 

Ming Thompson, AIA - Principal, Atelier Cho Thompson

Ming is a principal of Atelier Cho Thompson, a San Francisco-based design and concept firm, engaged in the art of architecture, interiors, graphics, brand strategy, furniture, installations, and exhibition design. Ming and her partner Christina Yoo formed their firm with an aim to transcend the conventional boundaries between these disciplines, resulting in a richness borne of the cross-pollination of ideas and strategies from across this spectrum of design. Ming studied architecture at Yale University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has worked for large and small firms around the globe.  As a practicing architect, Ming is focused on bettering human experience through design; she insists that good design must occur at all scales, from the building to the furniture to the logo, and everything in between.  Outside of architecture, Ming serves on the Board of Trustees of the Yale-China Association and the Alumnae Council of The Madeira School, and teaches at the California College of the Arts.

 

Panel Moderator

Julia V. Mandell, AIA - Architect at Wilson Associates

Julia is an experienced architect and planner with broad project experience in architecture, urban design, and landscape design. Currently designer and project manager at Wilson Associates, a design/build/development firm in Oakland, Julia’s recent work focuses on innovative commercial and residential projects that serve as urban catalysts. Julia is also very involved with AIASF’s Equity by Design, serving as the group’s 2017 Co-Chair. Previously, Julia worked for four years with SWA Group on large-scale urban design and landscape work in China and Houston, Texas. She received her Master of Architecture from Rice University and her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Columbia University.

 

Implicit Bias 101 Presentation

Rosa T. Sheng, AIA - Senior Associate, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, AIASF 2018 President-Elect

Rosa is an architect with over 23 years experience, that has led a variety of award-winning and internationally acclaimed projects, from the aesthetically minimal, highly technical development of the glass structures for Apple’s original high-profile retail stores, to the innovative and sustainable LEED NC Gold–certified Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business at Mills College in Oakland, California. As founding chair of Equity by Design and President-Elect 2018 of AIA San Francisco, Rosa has led Equity in Architecture Surveys in both 2014 and 2016, authored AIA National Resolution 15-1 in 2015, and served on the Equity in Architecture Commission in 2016. She has presented nationally and abroad including Boston, New York, Lisbon, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Equity by Design has been featured in Architect Magazine, Architectural Record, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TEDxPhiladelphia and KQED/NPR.

EQxD "U" - Quarterly Topics for Equitable Practice

by Julia V. Mandell, AIA - AIASF Equity by Design Co-Chair

Throughout 2017 Equity by Design will explore four quarterly topics from the Equity in Architecture Survey through in-depth workshops, blog posts, twitter chats and other activities. These interrelated pursuits will allow us to develop a deeper understanding and gain the knowledge we need to take action for each area of focus.  

  • Winter: Disrupting Bias - January thru March
  • Spring: Articulating Values - April thru June
  • Summer: Charting Your Path - July thru September
  • Fall: Designing Culture - October thru December  

 

Winter: Disrupting Bias

Graphic by Rosa Sheng, AIA

Graphic by Rosa Sheng, AIA

Disrupting Bias is our lead topic for 2017. We’ll kick off with the 1st EqxD “U” Workshop of the year at AIASF on February 8th 6-8pm, Disrupting Implicit Bias. 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’ll learn about the unconscious biases we all carry and techniques we can use to disrupt our own assumptions about others. A diverse panel of advocates will reflect on their own experiences on both sides of bias and discuss strategies for change.

In the next few months on the blog we’ll explore survey findings in Pay Equity, the Glass Ceiling and feature Inspire% stories related to how people have overcome the challenges of bias. A twitter #EQXDChat will allow participants to reflect on bias through multiple points of view.

 

Spring: Articulating Values

In the spring we’ll investigate how Articulating Values in our profession and communities. We will put those values into action in every day practice and strategic ways. In April, at the 2nd EQxD “U” Workshop, “Becoming a Change Agent”, we’ll learn how to put our values into action and shift the status quo. A panel of change agents will share tools and techniques that go from identifying a problem to making a lasting impact. Then we’ll put our new skills into practice in a hands-on workshop activity,  

Concurrently, we’ll gain an understanding on the blog of survey data relevant to our theme in areas like Education, Licensure, and explorations Beyond Architecture. We’ll also read about strategies for equitable practice that allow firms to articulate their values and turn those values into action.

 

Summer: Charting Your Path

Mapping Exercise #EQXDM3 WorkLife Break Out

Mapping Exercise #EQXDM3 WorkLife Break Out

During the summer our attention will turn to Charting Your Path and some serious thinking about how we as individuals organize our lives to succeed both personally and within the profession. The 3rd EQxD “U” Workshop "Graphing the Work-Life Equation", will explore the many possible ways to conceptualize the relationship between our work and personal lives.  Panelists will share how they set goals for navigating work/life flexibility or integration and the strategies they’ve adopted. They will also guide participants in reflecting on their own approach, how it is working for them and re-evaluate areas needing improvement.

Our survey investigations will explore relevant EQiA 2016 Survey findings in Paying Dues, Work-Life, and Working Caregivers. A twitter #EQXDChat will give us a chance to discuss work-life strategies with our friends and allies nationally and internationally.

 

Fall: Designing Culture

Culture with Intent Symposium Break Out Matrices Board

Culture with Intent Symposium Break Out Matrices Board

As the days get shorter again we’ll shift our focus to Designing Culture and spend some time thinking about how we can create culture that fosters creativity, design thinking and inclusivity. Our 4th and last EQxD “U” Workshop "Culture With Intent", will offer a chance to examine the firm culture where we work and how we can participate in shaping it. Along with a panel of experts, we’ll evaluate office culture in relation to our personal values, address any incongruities, and develop strategies to affect positive outcomes.

EQIA 2016 Survey findings in areas like Finding the Right Fit and Professional Development will help us gain a greater understanding of how culture affects career success. We’ll also get a chance to put our Design Culture ideas into action every day through the execution of related #EQxDActions.

If you are interested in participating or contributing to Equity by Design? Please check the EQxDesign.com blog and calendar or sign up to volunteer.


SAVE THE DATE! #EQXDHack17 @ A'17 in Orlando

EQxDHackathon: Architecture And the Era of Connections 4/26/17 @ A'17 (aka. AIA National Convention) in Orlando, FL  1-5pm

If you are attending A'17 in Orlando 4/26-4/29, please be sure to join us for the 3rd installment of the much talked about and game-changing workshop at the Conference on Architecture (Formerly known as - AIA National Convention). 

When you register, please pick WE304 as a pre-convention workshop and note that our program is held on WEDNESDAY 4/26/17 from 1-5pm which is the day before the A'17 starts.

EQxDHack17 Scholarships will be available this year for Students, Emerging Professionals, and Newly Licensed Architects! Stay Tuned for How to Register!

#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: 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!

NOMA RISE 2015 - Social Justice by Design

by Rosa Sheng, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

 

This past Friday, I was invited by the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) to deliver the opening Keynote at NOMA RISE 2015 - Social Justice by Design -  the 43rd Annual International Conference was hosted by the NOMA Louisiana Chapter in New Orleans (aka NOLA).  "While the design profession has seen a shift towards a more socially-conscious practice in recent years, NOMA has always been an organization centered around community engagement and social justice through the design process. With that in mind, this year, we are challenging our members and partners to rise in support of diversity in the profession and design justice in our communities." 

I was greeted with a warm southern welcome by the host chapter NOMA Louisiana at their reception on Thursday night. There were many friendly familiar faces in the room - the twitterati who I have engaged in meaningful "virtual" conversation, but have only met in person the first time that evening. During my visit, I also got to enjoy some of the sites, sounds and food of The Big Easy during my "30 hour" adventure near the French Quarter.

On Friday morning, I was honored to share the work of Equity by Design for the keynote session. "We are the Champions! Citizen Architect" from last week's #Architalks blog challenge served as a point of inspiration and call to action for all attendees. Kevin Holland, NOMA National President 2015-2016, gave a powerful opening that emphasized the need for action beyond discourse to improve the dire social landscape of our communities. He cited a story of racial profiling and the unjust arrest of Lyle Dotson that happened during an architecture tour of the French Quarter with a group of Ball State University architecture students and two faculty members.  Most of us are privileged that we would never need to worry about being arrested while walking through the French Quarter alone. It begs a deeper conversation about racism and social justice in our society.

The giant whale of inequity and social injustice is ominous. Divided, the task seems daunting to overcome these challenges. In order to make progress, we need to band together and share the responsibility of moving the needle. Equity is Everyone's issue on many different levels and it is all tied together; where we live, how we live, the quality of public vs. private spaces, who gets access and who is the advocate for designing these places. In order to inspire the next generation, we need to share our stories, our design work, our impact in our communities by communicating, documenting, recognizing, participating and advocating. We have compiled a Storify recap of the amazing topics, speakers, projects (like Project Pipeline), and people that make NOMA the phenomenal organization it is today. I shared the tools that we have used to spread the Equity in Architecture findings that has launched a parallel movement for equitable practice and talent retention. I encourage everyone to join twitter, LInked In, etc so that we can continue to engage in conversation and inspire the future generations of leaders that will come.

According to the US Census, by 2045, the minority population will become the majority. And in 2023, the student population will have reached this tipping point. How will we reframe our profession to engage and retain talent that will serve the transition of population and community demographics. Cultural awareness, competence and equitable practice will be important skills to learn; it is critical that we leverage this opportunity to convey the value of design in creating meaningful, influential and just environments where we live.

 


This week at AIASF, don't miss our last EQxD "U" Workshop of the year!

 

EQxD "U" Workshop 4 ! Architecture AND...Exploring Meaning & Influence by way of Multidisciplinary Practice.

Thursday, October 22, 2015 from 6pm - 8:30pm @AIASF 130 Sutter St, San Francisco

We will explore alternate models of practice that expand the avenues of influence for architects. More than 50% of all respondents to the 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey stated that they were dissatisfied with their current job situation. A large number responded that they were interested in alternative career paths. Rather than leave architecture behind completely - and have the profession lose ever more talent to other fields - how we can cultivate expansive multidisciplinary practices that are innovative, exploratory, and meaningful? 

The workshop will feature four professionals who have taken their work beyond the traditional boundaries of the field. After a review of key survey findings on the topic we will hear from the panelists about their paths, entrepreneurial thinking, and lessons learned in a question and answer session. This will be followed by design thinking exercises to guide us in thinking freely and widely about our career futures and the new kinds of practices we can create. Gain the courage and knowledge to turn your interests and ideas into a new work reality at our workshop!

10/22/15 Architecture AND… Workshop Agenda
Networking & Refreshments 6pm - 6:15pm
Introductions/Welcome 6:15 - 6:25pm
Panel Discussion 6:25 - 7:15pm
Break/Transition 7:15 - 7:20pm
Design Thinking Exercises 7:20 - 8:10pm
Conclusions 8:10 - 8:30pm

EQxD Get Real: I am Learning

by Lora Teagarden, AIA

Unlike many of the others writing on this topic of bias and privilege, I'm left feeling like I don't have much of value to say around this subject. Mostly because I was fortunate to live in an upbringing I'm learning would be called "privileged".

My parents got divorced when my sister and I were both very young, but they worked hard to make sure our bills were always paid and necessities provided. They saved to afford vacations and our annual round of shinguards and travel costs for soccer. We were not unlike most families in that we all worked hard, except we are white - which I’m learning sometimes brings a privilege all unto itself. And because of that, I'm continually learning…

I'm learning that I was blessed to grow up being taught that I can achieve anything I set my mind to - yes, even as a girl. No matter whether it was true or not, my parents allowed this dreamer to dream.

I'm learning that a support system is half the battle of fighting towards progress. Had I not had family, friends, or mentors there to support me during my struggles in life - and there have been many - I don't know where I would be today. From playing on the Men’s soccer team to petitioning for a Women’s team when the Athletic department didn’t want to fund it; from being recruited to play soccer in college to having to figure out new ways to cover the cost of college when they found out I was studying architecture and was told “architecture and sports don’t mix”; then getting divorced in the recession and moving myself over 2,000 miles back to my network of friends and family, with no job prospects and little portfolio of past work due to the constant moving of a military wife. My support system was there for me day in and day out and I’m learning the unfortunate reality that not everyone has that. I’m learning how much more that we need to grow in the efforts of championing each other.

I'm learning that equity needs to be a continual forward effort. When we choose to not act, learn, or start dialogue to move us forward like salmon up a stream, we're losing ground.

I'm learning that, when you haven't experienced a specific version of bias, empathy doesn't always translate. I recently ate my shoe trying to explain why you can't look at diversity as a snapshot. It involves history and so many benchmarks, but my empathy was lost in the wording and I hurt people. And for that I will always be sorry. I long for a world where merit and empathy and kindness rule, but I’m quickly realizing how much of a struggle lies ahead in removing bias from the world before that happens. I'm learning...
 


I'm learning that for every lost moment of nurturing my "little sister" (in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program), we lose 3 steps towards the unfortunate bias of life beating the optimism out of her. She has such a bright spirit and so much compassion, I'm learning how hard it is to keep that spirit alive when the biased odds of life aren't on her side. From navigating school systems to join clubs to helping provide access to her interest in art, I’m learning how to better help her learn and self-direct to build the life she dreams.

I'm learning that sometimes moving forward towards growth and equity means sitting still and listening. There is so much to be learned from others.

I'm learning that equity means different things to different people based on our backgrounds, but the most important thing is to come to the table vulnerable and willing to learn.

I'm learning...will you join me?


EQxD Get Real: The Mom Bias vs. The Mom Privilege

by Meghana Joshi, Associate AIA

Last night, at the AIA Orange County office, I was browsing through the reading material in their library, and "Women's Architectural League" caught my eye. It is a red leather bound scrapbook with pictures of women in the Architectural League, and newspaper clippings from early 1960’s Mad Men era. Women in beautiful clothes, and women in beautiful hair-dos meeting for luncheons to celebrate local architecture by organizing "home tours" and "helping their husbands" in their chosen field. It was essentially an unofficial AIA club for Architects’ and Associates’ wives. It was the time and era of transition of women from, "work if you need money" to being a, "professional." There were women in high places, but for an average woman, it was a tradeoff between work and family. You were not expected to do both successfully.

This picture in particular caught my interest:

"Little Jeffrey Bell, 3-year-old son of Mrs. Stanley Bell of Costa Mesa hangs on to Mrs. Bell's apron string as he tries to convince his mother that she should stay home with him instead of attending the annual meeting of the California Council of the Women's Architectural League." Mrs. Bell was a delegate to the event. There is another picture of Jeffrey Bell along with Annette Bell and Lisa Woodman tied up in a big ribbon and shown as "precious charges" to the babysitter as their mothers leave for the parley in Coronado. I don't know these women, but with the network they formed, and the events that they hosted, I can safely tell that their mission was to educate the public about architecture - they were playing a supporting role to their husbands’ careers mostly because of the societal bias against privileged women going back to work after having children more than anything else.

Fifty years later, the world has changed.

Women are underrepresented, but they are present in almost every profession of the world unless it is gender prohibitive. NCARB numbers for women in architecture are reassuring - more women are entering the profession, and more women are making efforts to stay in the career, get licensed and be mentors. The percentage of women completing AREs has doubled since 2000. We are still at a measly 35%, but I have trust and faith in the next generation for not being the "Missing 32 Percent".

What still hasn't changed? - The mom bias.

The pinch points for women in architecture are still "licensure", "caregiving" and the "glass ceiling" - all tied up mostly to parenting duties. Speaking about my personal experiences - my privilege is my bias and my bias is my privilege. That's the hardest truth of my life. As an entrepreneur, I work hard - but then there are times when my decision to be an entrepreneur is pegged to motherhood making it a "convenient way to balance work and life". It's not so. It's not so for any entrepreneur, male or female - parent or not. We are in the business because we are passionate about the business and creative sides of architecture- we take risks. Not because we want to be able to pick up the children from school, and save daycare dollars. I don't know how many men in business hear that, but if I had a dime for every time I heard that, I would be a ....

Then there is the mom guilt.

Have you stayed at work past six? Have you shown up to work before sunrise? Let's assume your employer is all for work-life balance, but also lets you call the shots on your project schedule. Let’s assume you are doing something you are so passionate about, you refuse to leave your desk simply based on the clock. Let’s assume your co-parent / your parenting support system and you have it under control. I don't know why I am adding "assumptions" since it should be nobody's business. But still, for argument’s sake, how many times have you heard "I could have never done that - Timmy needs me." or "Wow, you are lucky, my husband would never do that".

A simple suggestion to all working mothers: don't call the other woman lucky if she has a good support system. Like everything else, it needs hard work too; to have and to maintain a support system. Don't ever tell a working woman when she needs to go home, or who needs her at home. Architecture being what it is, sometimes cannot be an eight hour job with a fixed schedule. If someone volunteers, if someone involves themselves more into the profession than treating it as a job to pay bills, be supportive. Reword your "wow, you are lucky" to "I am glad you can make time for things you are passionate about". No one is lucky- even lottery winners bought several tickets before they won.

The mom privilege.

The mom privilege is actually bias in disguise. Finally after working for fifteen years, and two children, the time is right for me to pursue licensure. As I take care of my projects and parenting along with studying for ARE exams, I do hear things like "At least you have a reason for not doing it". No, children aren't and shouldn't be a reason for anyone to stop in their tracks. I didn't work on my licensure so far because I didn't have the drive to. Of all the women that changed the world, many didn't wait for their child to grow up and be in high school and not need them anymore - it doesn't work like that. But that's a "privilege" that I deal with as I continue my journey;, my migration from the “Missing 32 percent”, currently as the Test Taking 38%* and one day adding to the number of licensed women architects.

In a nutshell, while I do what I want to do in my life, at my own pace and at my own timing and methods, please don't guilt me - or have bias against me - or treat my parent tag as a privilege. My gender, my reproductive accomplishments, and my age - they should all be background noise. Same goes for other women - or men.  Architects have the privilege of changing the world with their careful planning and execution of community components. Let’s use that privilege to end bias - not end each other's career with bias against people of color and/or gender.

No one should go "missing" in a profession because they were not accepted by the tribe.

* (Based on NCARB By the Numbers 2015)