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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?

Call for Thought Leaders #EQxDM3 Symposium 10/29

Thought Leader (noun) - one whose views on a subject are taken to be influential and impactful.


AIASF Equity by Design Committee invites you to contribute as a Thought Leader for the 2016 Symposium EQUITY BY DESIGN: METRICS, MEANING AND MATRICES on Saturday, October 29, 2016 from 9am - 4:30pm at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Photo by Daniel Wang

Photo by Daniel Wang

Starting Monday, June 6th we will be seeking Thought Leaders to participate in the Symposium sessions which range from panel discussions of key findings from the Equity in Architecture survey to interactive break-out sessions geared toward action-oriented outcomes. We are looking for dynamic, collaborative, articulate thinkers with a unique perspective on the spectrum of topics involved with achieving equitable practice. Once selected, we will collaborate with thought leaders on developing topic sessions that are highly engaging in discussion and inspiring in actionable outcomes.  


Why Equity in Architecture Matters

Equity is the ethos of our work. It is the ability to recognize difference and provide fair and just access to opportunities. Equity also speaks to a collective ownership, vested interest and knowledge of our worth. Equitable practice promotes the recruitment and retention of the most diverse talent while building stronger, successful, sustainable practices. The equitable representation of professionals allows us to better represent the people we are meant to serve. Equity is for everyone - architects, design collaborators, clients, and our communities.



This year’s Symposium theme, EQUITY BY DESIGN: METRICS, MEANING AND MATRICES builds upon the last five years of advocacy and sets an exciting path  for the next chapter of our journey towards equity in architecture.

We must leverage metrics to make any substantial progress towards changing the ratios in our profession. We seek meaning at many levels: in the discovery of significance in one’s career, in the personal connections we make with others, and in our own reflection upon research findings that can positively transform workplace culture. We create matrices to inspire a new mindset for advocacy and action. These generative networks of connections enable us to become originators of new approaches and constructs.

At the Symposium we will present the early findings of the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey through a series of panel discussions. Interspersed among these sessions, we have designed a series of diverse and interactive break-out workshops that encourage participants to engage in meaningful dialogue about their career experiences. Most importantly, we will experience the power and impact of action by learning and applying matrices as individuals, firms and in our professional networks.



Our research has shown that, regardless of age or level of experience, both men’s and women’s perspectives on their careers are shaped by ways in which individuals and firms, address several key issues, or career dynamics. Each of these career dynamics has the potential to cause unwelcome professional and personal tension. On the other hand, awareness and discussion of each of these career dynamics can begin to meet individual needs and build diverse firms where talented individuals love to work.

Metrics:  Career Dynamics

In the Metrics Presentation, the EQxD survey team will reveal and discuss our research on the following Career Dynamic

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT - What is “job-person fit,” or a successful match between an individual and a firm, and how do we recognize it when we see it? What strategies can individuals employ to assess personal priorities, and identify working environments where they will thrive?  How can firms and individuals work together to create equitable studio culture? 

BURNOUT/ENGAGEMENT -. What are burnout and engagement, and how are they related? Why is promoting engagement important to a firm’s bottom line? Who is particularly vulnerable to burnout, and what are the warning signs? What are firms doing successfully to foster engagement and avoid burnout?

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT - What are the most effective ways that firms are preparing employees for career success? What role do mentorship and sponsorship play in promoting equity in the workplace? How do individuals assess their strengths  and set goals for their futures, and are there gendered differences in self-assessment?

WORK-LIFE INTEGRATION - Why are many professionals more likely to let their personal health and relationships suffer while also suppressing their other professional passions? What can firms and individuals do differently to encourage a thriving integration among professional practice, wellness and meaningful work?

BEYOND ARCHITECTURE - How common is it to take an extended leave, sabbatical, or extended time away from a job in architecture? Why do people leave architecture, and what do they go on to do after leaving the field? What measures can firms take to smooth transitions back into architectural practice for those who would like to re-enter the field?

Metrics: Panel Discussion

Following the Career Dynamics Metrics Presentation, we are seeking panelists to discuss the  findings by addressing themes from the presentation. For this panel, we seek Thought Leaders with general knowledge of Career Dynamics topic areas mentioned above, as well as unique perspectives on one, or several of the Career Dynamics.

Metrics & Meaning: Break-Out Sessions

Following the morning Metrics sessions, conference attendees will select one of four Break-Out Sessions. Each of these sessions focus on a topic related to the Career Dynamics. Potential formats for these sessions are described below. Each session will be developed and led by two Thought Leaders with the assistance of a facilitator from Equity by Design.


Photo by Daniel Wang

Photo by Daniel Wang

In addition to broad career dynamics, there are a number of professional and personal milestones that can act as career pinch points. These milestones have the tendency to become roadblocks that hold have disproportionately negative impacts on women’s and minorities’ careers. In this section, we will explore key career pinch points, as well as strategies for fostering equity by increasing both men and women’s success in negotiating them.

Metrics: Career Pinch Points

In the afternoon Metrics Presentation, the EQxD survey team will reveal and discuss our research on the following Career Pinch Points:

STUDIO/ACADEMIA - Is architectural education adequately preparing aspiring architects for their careers? What knowledge areas and skill sets aren’t being sufficiently addressed in school? How can schools set precedents for equitable studio culture?

PAYING DUES - Why are aspiring architects more likely to leave the field within their first few years of experience than at any other time in their careers? What can firms and individuals do to increase engagement and long-term commitment to the profession amongst young designers?

LICENSURE - What is the value of licensure? Why are men more likely than women to pursue an architectural license? What can firms do to encourage employees to become licensed?

CAREGIVING - Are women and minorities more likely to suffer negative career impacts related to their caregiving responsibilities? What are firms doing successfully to support working caregivers?

GLASS CEILING - Why, when the talent pipeline is more diverse than ever before, do white men continue to hold the majority of firm, design, and thought leadership positions within the industry? Why is there still a gender pay gap within architecture, and what can we do to address it? What can individuals, firms, and institutions do to promote the advancement of the industry’s best talent?

Metrics: Panel Discussion

Following the Career Pinch Points Metrics Presentation, we are seeking panelists to discuss the  findings by addressing themes from the presentation. For this panel, we seek Thought Leaders with general knowledge of Career Pinch Points topic areas mentioned above, as well as unique perspectives on one, or several of the Career Pinch Points.


Metrics & Meaning: Break-Out Sessions

Following the afternoon metrics sessions, conference attendees will select one of four Break-Out Sessions. Each of these sessions focus on a topic related to a Career Pinch Point. Potential formats for these sessions are described below. Each session will be developed and led by two Thought Leaders with the assistance of a facilitator from Equity by Design.


All sessions will be developed collaboratively with other Thought Leaders, session facilitators, and Symposium organizers. Once you are selected as a Thought Leader you will be paired with a facilitator and other Thought Leaders to develop a session that fits within a particular topic category.

General sessions will have a panel discussion format. Break-out sessions will fit one of the following typologies:

THINK TANK - Focus on design-thinking exercises to develop creative solutions and new ideas to solve topic-specific problems. Very interactive***

STORYTELLING - Sharing stories and experiences on topic-related theme. Storytellers can be a mix of Thought Leaders and session participants. Moderately Interactive***

EQUITABLE PRACTICE IN ACTION - Presentation of case studies in practice, including lessons learned, followed by feedback discussion. Moderately Interactive***

SKILL-SHARE - Learning-focused skill-building clinic, potentially with a role-playing component. (Examples - Negotiation, Dealing w/ Bias or Interruptions, or other challenging  scenarios.)  Moderatelyl Interactive***

*** The interactivity of various session types can be adjusted depending on the other sessions offered. For example, if the Skill-Share is more active it can be paired with a more static Equitable Practice in Action session.


To be considered as an EQUITY BY DESIGN 2016 Thought Leader, you must submit your application to the AIASF by June 24, 2016

If accepted as a Thought Leader for EQUITY BY DESIGN 2016 you will agree to adhere to the following milestone deadlines for session development and attend at least 4 preparation meetings, preferably in person.


Call for Thought Leaders Deadline: June 24, 2016

Thought Leaders selected and notified: July 15, 2016

Break-out Session proposed topic options (3) due: August 15, 2016

Collaboration w/ Facilitator & Other Thought Leaders for brief descriptions of 3 potential session designs including subject focus and format.

Metrics Panel Discussions initial meetings: Early August

Final Break-Out Session Brief due: Aug 25, 2016

Brief session description for conference schedule.

Preparation Meeting/Call I: Early September

Content development (outline of each session) and practice, required for every session.

Technical/spatial/furniture/toolkit (markers, flip charts, voting dots, etc.) requirements.

 Preparation Meeting/Call II: Late September

Content development (outline and activities) and practice, required for every session.

Preparation Meeting/Call III: Early October

Content development (outline, time duration, leaders) and practice, required for every session






  1. Visit (this link is case sensitive) to access the presentation submission site.

  2. Create a new account with the user name and password of your choice.

  3. Click the CREATE NEW button at the bottom of the Form Thought Leader page to begin your submission.

  4. Identify a primary contact person and email address for your entry.

  5. Click NEXT or the SUBMISSION tab to move to the presentation segment of your submission. Complete all required fields and click SAVE.

  6. You are still able to review and edit submission at this time. Be sure to click the FINALIZE button when you are finished editing your presentation, or your session will not be reviewed. 

  7. You may click SAVE during any part of the submission process and return to your submission at a later time. You will need your user name and password from step 2 to return to your account and continue.

  8. Once you have submitted your application, no additional changes can be made, so please review all information carefully prior to submission. 



Is there compensation for Thought Leaders?

Selected Thought Leaders will be offered free conference registration for their participation. 

There will be no honorarium compensation or travel/hotel expenses reimbursed for Selected Thought Leaders.

What happens after Thought Leaders are selected? 

Once selected, Thought Leaders will be coordinated by a facilitator on finalizing session topic, format and content. Participation and preparation are important to the success and impact of the session. Please think carefully about your time and availability to contribute to this unique and rewarding experience.  



If you have any questions regarding the Symposium, please contact Julia Mandell, EQxD Symposium Chair, by calling + 1 281 687 2582 or by sending an email to  

If you have any questions regarding technical support for submitting your application for Thought Leaders, please contact

Courtesy of Tanmay Vora

Courtesy of Tanmay Vora

Inspirations from Matrices: 2GA in Lisbon, Portugal 3/18-3/20

by Rosa T. Sheng, AIA


Last week, I attended Matrices: The 2nd International Congress on Architecture and Gender at the Universidade Lusofona in Lisbon, Portugal to present The Missing 32% Project: Equity in Architecture Survey findings to an International audience of academics, practitioners and students. The theme Matrices has several definitions and they are all inclusive by nature. Matrices are environments where things develop, the models or patterns that shape formations, and they can also reinvent an environment. These images are suited to address the current patterns of change regarding architecture and gender. We found the conference theme to be concurrent with the mission and activism associated with Equity by Design.

The 3 day Conference featured presentations that provided a broad forum for discourse on the history and current state of practice for women in architecture around the world by architects, philosophers, historians from Portugal, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Sweden, Costa Rica and the United States. 

The content of each presentation was energizing, provocative and ranging in a broad spectrum of topics; Works and achievements of architects Lina Bo Bardi, Ray Eames, Eileen Gray; Niche feminist activism by a Chicago group called CARYATIDS; Cinematic influences on the image of Architects, The unique tension surrounding Iranian Women's Parks, recruiting and teaching architecture to Saudi Arabian women and a call to action for forming a Matrices network of research, best practices, and dialogue.

The opening keynote speaker was Spanish Architect Ariadna Cantis, whose business model expands beyond traditional practice and parallels current discussion of "Architecture And" conversations; expanding the design reach of our profession into communications, graphics, user experience, metrics, and social media. 

Martha Thorne, Executive Director of The Pritzer Prize was also present as a participant on a featured roundtable discussion on Matrices, the theme of the conference. She spoke of the need to focus on 3 key areas for continuing the movement for women in architecture. Creation of Alliances, leveraging Technology, and raising a call to Action would be critical to making an impact for the representation and recognition of women in architecture going forward.

Jane Rendell

Jane Rendell

Jane Rendell was the closing Keynote presenter who spoke of her newest work in publication "Site Writings" which continues to explore new interdisciplinary concepts and processes such as ‘critical spatial practice’. Ms. Rendell, a professor at Bartlett School of Architecture at University College of London, is also a writer, art critic and architectural historian/theorist/designer, whose work explores interdisciplinary intersections between architecture, art, feminism and psychoanalysis. 

Each day's summary is available below via Storify.

Matrices 2GA: Day 1 Summary, 3/18

Matrices 2GA: Day 2 Summary, 3/19

Matrices 2GA: Day 3 Summary, 3/20

Conference sessions were complimented by 2 nearby museum exhibits featuring the Varina, an iconic Portuguese Fisherwoman, representing strength and resolve of spirited women in Lisbon's rich history. The spirit of the Varina is evident in her proud posture which reminded me of Denise Scott Brown's widely known pose in Las Vegas. Similarly, Varina is alive in the leadership of our gracious hosts of the conference, Patricia Santos Pedrosa, Maria Joao Matos, and Eliana Sousa Santos and their colleagues at LABART Lusofona who ambitiously sought to continue a much needed conversation on architecture and gender in an international forum.