Blog %

There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

EQxDV “Plus One” Voices: Change Starts with Conversations and Community

Written by Itria Licitra

#EQxDV Plus One Scholarship Recipients and Mentors gathering for the first time - Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

#EQxDV Plus One Scholarship Recipients and Mentors gathering for the first time - Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018, I found myself looking out over the unusually clear morning bay from the San Francisco Art Institute’s patio - the location for #EQxDV: Voices, Values, Vision Symposium. I am not a member of the architecture community, as a structural engineer, I am architecturally adjacent. I walked onto the patio - lively with the eager chatter of colleagues ready to dive into a difficult and exhausting day of conversations about a number of challenges in the field - unsure of what was to come. Much of what was said over the day was specific to the architecture field, but I was able to find a number of parallels with the engineering field and many tips and tools to inform my approach to my professional practice.

Tactical Implementation Workshop  

Tactical Implementation Workshop  

In the afternoon I attended the “Tactical Implementation” breakout session. During the session, 4 firm leaders spoke about how they exercise and monitor equity at their workplace. After hearing from the speakers, we broke out into small groups based on company size and brainstormed what strategies of tactical implementation would look like at small, medium and large scale. There were two tactics that particularly stood out to me. The first, so simple and seemingly obvious, was to define company values then evaluate how well the company is achieving those values. Setting clear goals and defining what success looks like helps to better measure how well a company is performing with respect to predefined values. I imagine that exercises like this would also help facilitate conversations about nature and cause shortcomings. The second tactic came up a few times throughout the day, it was about how to foster a more diverse workplace. My takeaway was that recruitment should occur in the communities that you would like to see represented in your company. Be intentional about making the company accessible in those spaces.

Through the breakout sessions and the conversations that ensued throughout the day, I was struck by the strength of the community that was forming around me, the kindness and enthusiasm that people were showing towards each other and me, and the ways so many people were tackling the challenge of equity in various ways. I felt inspired by the strength of the people that spoke, willing to share their experiences with all of us and help facilitate this community. Equity by Design has provided a space, for people to come together to share similar and dissimilar experiences. This allowed people to create a network of inspiration and support that I was witness to continuously throughout the day.

Vision Panel - Photo by Rosa Sheng  

Vision Panel - Photo by Rosa Sheng  

I am still relatively new to the industry with just a few years under my belt. I am feeling my way around engineering and design - reconciling the things that I really enjoy with the positive and negative effects that my work has on my community. I live in the Bay Area, where it is rare that a week passes without a conversation about housing prices, gentrification or the tech industry. I cannot pretend like my work does not play a role in this climate. I participate in an industry that primarily creates spaces that are not accessible to me. There are redeeming projects and I do find value, but I would like to find a better way to exercise my skills in a more meaningful way. At the end of the day, listening to the Vision panelists speak, I felt a renewed hope that there are wholly good projects out there. I want to take the conversation they started a step further and explore how we can remove micro-aggressions from everyday projects. How can we use our power and influence to encourage owners to consider how equity can be designed and built in? I don’t know the answer, but I would like to be around to explore options and see where this conversation goes.

Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

Photo by Andre Pennycooke  

#EQxDV: "Plus One" Voices: Belonging Together

Written by Maggie Gaudio

As I prepared to attend my first #EQXDV Symposium, I did not know what to expect. In all honesty, I wasn’t quite sure what “Equity by Design” really meant. Initially, I jumped to the conclusion that it meant “equitable design” since I am still in architecture school and have made it my personal goal to create socially conscious designs that benefit everyone as opposed to select groups of people.


My naivety became clear to me the moment the symposium began and I was exposed to Equity in Architecture Survey findings - data the organizers of the event had collected from over 14,000 professionals in the realm of architecture and design. This data covered the current climate of the profession in regards to gender, race, salary, values, work/life balance and so forth. The reality of this data and the conversations that flowed from it revealed to me that equity by design, although still related to equitable design, has a much broader and holistic meaning. I learned that equity by design means bringing understanding to the profession. An understanding that everyone is different and brings valuable, relevant qualities to the table. Therefore each should be appreciated and rewarded appropriately. Currently, there is a general awareness of this, yet not an overall understanding and implementation of it.

The following are some issues that I had encountered before attending the symposium but feel I learned about much more deeply throughout the event:

  1. Women in architecture and the related fields are still being paid less than men.

  2. Only about 440 black females in the country are registered architects. In the country!!

  3. Many women leave the profession after having children.

  4. The concept of work/life balance means something different to everyone.


These topics are prime examples of how today’s professional field of architecture is aware of the fact that people are different, yet there is not an understanding and appreciation of this difference. There is such a lack of understanding that women are either not getting licensed or leaving the field because of their race, their commitments to their families, or their unequal salaries. As a woman entering the profession and interested in one day having a family and a life outside of my job, this causes me significant concern. However, having attended the symposium - hearing from and speaking with people who share similar concerns as me - it was inspiring and refreshing to be surrounded by like-minded people as dedicated to creating a more inclusive professional field as myself.


This collective dedication and passion for the same cause was contagious and the sense of community was palpable. One of the several panelists that we had the pleasure of listening to, Damaris Hollingsworth, said that she believed the definition of community was when we intentionally behave as if we belong together. I wholeheartedly agree with this and it was clear that the attendees of the symposium intentionally behaved as if they belonged there and comfortably shared their thoughts with each other.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is quite the same in the day-to-day reality of the architectural profession. Well, not yet. As with most cultural shifts, major changes don’t happen overnight. But the symposium is an example of first steps, of bringing awareness to the issues at hand and fostering an inspiring environment in which people can openly share ideas on how to make change happen. Throughout the day, there was an emphasis on the concept of champions - of being a champion for someone else and of having a champion for yourself. When we are surrounded by the support of such champions, we feel empowered to make a difference. I definitely felt (and still feel!) empowered by the champions I met at the symposium to become an increasingly engaged and active member of this community, united in the cause of creating a more inclusive and understanding profession.

Belonging Together - “It was clear that the attendees of the symposium intentionally behaved as if they belonged there and comfortably shared their thoughts with each other.”

Belonging Together - “It was clear that the attendees of the symposium intentionally behaved as if they belonged there and comfortably shared their thoughts with each other.”

#EQxDV "Plus One" Voices: How one day can impact your life

Written by Olga Bracamontes, NOMA

When Diane Jacobs, from Holly Street Studio in Phoenix, sent me the application for the #EQxDV Plus One Scholarship, I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Two weeks prior to attending the Equity by Design Symposium, I was returning home from the 2018 NOMA Conference after hosting a seminar with my chapter, NOMAarizona. I was aware of the Equity in Architecture Survey but had no clue about the symposium. I knew I was in for a treat when reading through the breakout session topics and the panelist discussions.


As my first time attending a conference alone, especially out of town, I was very excited yet a bit nervous but I was sure that I’d be able to connect with amazing people. The moment I walked up to the registration table on Saturday morning, who did I run into? My mentor: Jill Bergman! What are the chances! We spent our morning getting to know each other, talking about the conference and sharing words of knowledge.

Although the data and panel discussions were informative, it isn’t surprising that there is a lot of work yet to be done in our industry and the AEC community for equitable practice. Rosa Sheng = wow! This woman is a true leader and speaks in such a way that moves you. She brought so much energy to the room full of attendees with her story, words of inspiration, and raised questions that I hadn’t put thought into before. Rosa started the conference by talking about the difference between equality, equity and justice, and why equity matters. This conversation framed the content of the symposium and caused me to do a lot of self-reflection. Why do I do what I do? Because I need to be who I needed growing up.

As I filled my new #EQxDV sketchbook with notes throughout the day, I reflected upon my personal contributions, involvement with the community and the youth. I felt proud of the work I’ve done over the last few years, especially my involvement with NOMAarizona over the last year as a founding member. Diversity and inclusion is our driving force as a chapter, and as the College Liaison I have been fortunate to work closely with college students as they are the future. But after hearing the stories from the panelists I thought, “there is SO much more for me to do!”

If there is something that I really appreciated from the symposium was that they provided a safe space, a place to be vulnerable without judgement. People shared amazing stories, often accompanied with their failures and struggles, which is important for me to hear. We aren’t perfect. Life is full of struggles. It’s ok to talk about them and be willing to share with others. As a young professional who is actively involved with the community and aspires to have a family someday, I know that I will face many struggles but the women I met at the symposium assured me that it IS possible to do both. It’s definitely not an easy road, but it can be done.


Last but not least; the people. I’m very grateful to have been paired up with a wonderful mentor that provided plenty of advice but also encouraged me. Your energy is contagious and I was always fascinated with our conversations. Thank you Jill! It was also great to connect with the other women of the #EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship cohort, whom are brilliant and inspiring. The people that I met at the symposium, some of which are also NOMA members, provided great insight to what I wish to continue working on or pursue. I look forward to attending the symposium in the future and reconnect with amazing individuals who are changing the game. Opportunities come and go, and we must learn to take them. It truly comes a long way when just one person provides that gateway. Thank you Diane for sharing this opportunity of applying for the #EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship to an event that would impact my life and career.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV "Plus One" Voices: Speaking Up is Hard

Written by Taylor Holloway

Speaking up is hard. Being the only one is hard. Succeeding in your profession without an abundance of support, peers, or mentors with shared commonalities, is even harder.

The #EQxDV Symposium, the 2018 Equity in Architecture Survey, and the AIA Guides for Equitable Practice, are the courageous efforts that give validity to the systemic, accepted, and covert, biases and injustices within architectural education and practice since the history of United States. Prior to the #EQxDV Symposium, I had never been able to articulate, voice, or discuss my experience of architectural education and practice that 90% of licensed architects have not experienced, and largely, cannot comprehend.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV “Plus One” Scholarship Winners and Mentors - (Left to Right) Taylor Holloway, Jill Bergman, Olga Bracamontes, Frances Choun, Maggie Gaudio, Meghana Joshi, Mani Farhadi, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Itria Licitra. (Patricia Ramallo not pictured) Photo credit: Jordan A. Lim.

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

For the first time ever, alongside a band of driven equity and justice warriors, I recognized that I was not alone in my experience both at school and in practice. I am not alone in being the only black woman in my graduate M.Arch class. I am not alone in being told by firm leadership that I was “just was not a good fit” irrespective of my professional performance. I am not alone in grappling with the reality, cost, and isolation of being the first generation in my family to attend college as well as the first to attend graduate school. And most importantly, I am not alone in deciding to commit myself to changing the profession of architecture.

The #EQxDV Symposium was undoubtedly an exceptional event, but more so, it was a space of true dichotomy. It is a space where both pain and joy were unearthed. It is a space where both fact and feeling were examined. It is a space where both reality and the means for mobilizing a new reality convened. Above all, it is a space that architecture needs.

Intersectionality Workshop Presenters - (Right to Left) Rosa Sheng, Prescott Revis, Mani Farhadi, and A.L. Hu. Photo by Taylor Holloway.

Intersectionality Workshop Presenters - (Right to Left) Rosa Sheng, Prescott Revis, Mani Farhadi, and A.L. Hu. Photo by Taylor Holloway.

During a morning workshop - Intersectionality and Intercultural Intelligence, we utilized Milton Bennett’s Intercultural Development Continuum to aid us in pinpointing our personal Intercultural Mindsets. Our talented and patient facilitators helped participants identify how we each dis-engage with or actively integrate our understanding of cultural difference into our lives. Applying actionable tools and processes to confront inequity and bias that exists in all forms of professional practice, not just architecture, isn’t impossible--but it is work. It is work that requires iteration and a conscientious effort to be inclusive and self-aware.

Intersectionality Workshop Participants - Photo by Andre Pennycooke.

Intersectionality Workshop Participants - Photo by Andre Pennycooke.

Among the many learnings I drew from the Intersectionality workshop and the Symposium, what resounded most is that moving towards equity, justice, diversity and inclusion is not solely the work of the underrepresented. It is the work of all of us. Only in collaboration and from a place of openness can architecture emerge on the other side of history as an adaptable, valued, relevant, and evolving profession.

Voices Panel - Kevin Holland, Diana Jacobs, Julia V. Mandell, Tiffany Brown, and A.L. Hu. Photo credit by Wanda Lau

Voices Panel - Kevin Holland, Diana Jacobs, Julia V. Mandell, Tiffany Brown, and A.L. Hu. Photo credit by Wanda Lau

Tiffany Brown, the founder of 400 Forward, spoke at the Symposium about whether it is fair to steward African American women into a field where they will be underrepresented and undercompensated. And it is true; according to the 2018 Equity In Architecture survey data,  black women in architecture may find themselves possessing a master’s degree and still earning less than a white male counterpart with only a bachelor's degree. And it is true; in 2018 we’re still addressing whether a millennia old profession can be made equitable enough to include individuals of different races, creeds, gender identities, socio-economic backgrounds. Yet everyone at the #EQxDV Symposium was in attendance because they possess a belief, or at a minimum a hope, that the evolution and relevance we seek as a profession, will only come after we have made space for the very populations architecture never intended to make space for.

This past week I had the privilege of witnessing Tamara Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, give a keynote address. Listening to Tamara, I began to fully understand that those of us working to overcome an injustice or a form of trauma can only do so if made aware that we are not alone. The EQxDV Symposium exists not simply to affirm the profession’s real challenges of inequity and bias, but to serve as a foundation and wellspring of encouragement for the efforts that are propelling the profession forward and ushering in new generations of designers, architects, and leaders.

The #EQxDV Symposium was a gathering of the most welcoming and authentic group of individuals in the profession that I have ever encountered. It is also the only gathering of architects I have ever seen collectively decide that they care enough about the profession to mobilize and develop strategies to evolve the field so that its future may look nothing like its past. It was an honor to attend the 5th Equity by Design Symposium, and I reiterate: it is a space that architecture needs.

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

#EQxDV 5th Sold-Out Symposium at San Francisco Art Institute - November 3rd, 2018. Photo Credit: Andre Pennycooke

Join our Champions! #EQxDV Sponsorship Opportunities

The movement for equitable practice can't happen without the generous support and commitment of the Architectural and Engineering community, both individuals and firms that have doubled down on forging the path forward for more equitable workplace culture, creating new value for design and practice and impactful outcomes for the communities we serve.



Become a #EQxDV Symposium Sponsor! 

Join the current group of Champions for the #EQxDV Symposium on November 3, 2018. There are many benefits to sponsorship support of this premiere event, including reserved tickets for the events based on the level of support so that you don't have to worry about registration being sold out. Please get in touch with us before the August 22th Registration launch.

Firm Sponsorship Benefits Prospectus

Premium Sponsorship Benefits Prospectus

Name *
Sponsorship Levels *
Please let us know what level you are interested in


2018 Equity by Design Sustaining Sponsors

We would like to take the time to thank our AIASF EQxD 2018 Sustaining Sponsors who have supported the 2018 Equity in Architecture Survey Research effort that has resulted in over 14,000 responses.

"Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices" Video Debut

We are excited to share the Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices video from AIASF's 4th Symposium and messaging about the mission and exciting movement for taking action. Please share this video with your colleagues, friends, firm leaders, etc. 

The video is created by Corey Leavitt, our talented filmmaker. 

Special Thanks to AIASF, Equity by Design symposium Thought Leaders and Volunteers and our generous EQXDM3 sponsors that made this video possible.

#EQxDM3 Symposium - Full Storify Recap

2 weeks after the AIASF Equity by Design's 4th Sold Out Symposium - Metrics, Meaning & Matrices, we have compiled, curated and edited a Storify capture of live tweets and photos from the day as part of our ongoing commitment to all of you for actionable resources towards Equitable practice in architecture. The infographics that summarize the key findings are provided here for your reference.


Here are some other posts and articles about the what occurred at the EQxDM3 Symposium. Video to follow shortly!

Equity by Design Releases Early Findings From Its 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey by Wanda Lau

San Francisco’s Equity by Design Symposium Uses Data to Engender Change by Lydia Lee

EQxD's 4th Symposium A Success! by Angie Sommers, PE.




Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning & Matrices. A conversation with the EQxD Core Team

Interview by Molly Thomas and Sam Moeller

The 4th annual AIA San Francisco Equity by Design (EQxD) Symposium takes place this weekend, on October 29 at the San Francisco Art Institute. Formally known as The Missing 32% Project, EQxD is focused on achieving equitable practice in architecture in order to retain talent, advance the profession, and engage the public in understanding architecture’s true value and impact. At this year’s event, the findings of the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey will be presented, further exploring the conference theme, “Metrics, Meaning & Matrices” through a series of interactions including break-out sessions, panel discussions and an outdoor installation.

We sat down with EQxD Founding Chair Rosa Sheng, Co-Chair Lilian Asperin, Research Chair Annelise Pitts, Symposium Chair Julia Mandell, and Industry Outreach Liaison Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, to talk about this year’s theme and how the movement has evolved to encompass the broader topic of equity in the workplace.

How did you get involved with EQxD and what does the movement mean to you?

ROSA: In June 2013, after speaking at the 2nd Missing 32 Percent Symposium, I founded the committee with my fellow panelists (including our lovely Saskia!) as a way to raise awareness of the gender disparity in the industry. It’s exciting to see what started off as a conversation shift into a movement with actual results. 

JULIA: I'm the newest member of the core team, and I’ve been involved with EQxD for two years. I heard about the committee after the 2014 survey was published, and I knew I wanted to be part of the movement.

LILIAN: January of 2014, my father’s passing was the first time in my career that my professional and personal trajectories massively collided. My involvement with Equity by Design was meaningful during this period of personal grieving and upheaval because I was experiencing a particularly difficult pinch point. Crafting the Mission statement energized me. We shared an interest in being of service to our talent, with a capital “T”.  It resonated with me that so many of us agreed that people’s wellness is directly related to a thriving profession in Architecture.

SASKIA:  I asked Rosa (as a favor!) to be on a panel for the Missing 32% conference to talk about Communication and Negotiation.  I knew Rosa through my work with BCJ — I don’t think either of us necessarily had the issue of women in architecture on our radar.  That conference really galvanized me, and I quickly got involved in the Equity by Design research project and the resulting conference in 2014.

Explain the name The Missing 32% and how it transformed into the movement that is known as Equity by Design.

ROSA: The Missing 32% resulted from an incubator event conceived and produced in 2011 by the AIA SF Communications Committee. It is a jarring reminder that nearly one-third of women with professional degrees in architecture do not become licensed architects, AIA members, or senior leaders in the profession. Over the years, the phrase has evolved to encompass a broader conversation of equitable practice for everyone, which is reflected in the current name, Equity by Design.

SASKIA:  The term Equity by Design is very intentional.  Equity is about everyone and not only women. And we are design thinkers and design professionals.  Our goal is to gain knowledge and share best achieve Equity by and through Design!

What is the significance of this year’s symposium theme “Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning, and Matrices?”

ROSA: The theme builds upon the last five years of advocacy and sets an exciting path for our committee’s next “chapter”. Equity is for everyone. We are approaching the mission's design holistically and we're not just looking at a small scale. We're looking at a scale beyond our industry — equity for architects, design collaborators, clients, and our communities. We are being intentional about creating a entirely new lexicon to foster actionable change. 

ANNELISE: We must leverage metrics to track progress on how the gender dynamics are shifting. If we want the ratios within our profession to change, we need benchmarks for comparison and time to review, discuss, and adjust our course of action based on the findings.

LILIAN: In terms of meaning, we seek meaning at different intervals in our careers and in the connections we make. Oftentimes, we end up feeling like we have to make a choice between personal and professional growth, but by focusing on “the bigger meaning,” we are inspiring changes that will provide work-life synergies. Many of us are drawn to architecture because we are filled with excitement about how we can change the world — we are drawn to meaningful careers, and when we see the impact and influence possible through our work, we raise awareness of architecture’s true value within our society while simultaneously realizing personal and job satisfaction.

JULIA: The last component, matrices, well, we can adopt matrices to inspire advocacy and action. By nature, we are makers, problem solvers, and creators. Matrices enable us to become originators of new approaches and frameworks so that we can create more equitable environments within architectural practice and the places we design.

The 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey put hard numbers to what many of us have experienced in architecture. How have the metrics helped you affect change? Why is this survey unique and what do you hope to accomplish with the 2016 survey?

ROSA: In 2014, we asked many questions geared toward working parents but when we reviewed the data, we recognized the need to expand the questions to encompass caregiving and other career pinch points. So for the 2016 survey we asked more questions about non-parent caregivers and people with a broader spectrum of families. This evolution in the survey questions and data is helping us affect tangible action because we are attempting to reach people individually. We are taking the time to understand what matters on a personal level versus using a blanket approach.

LILIAN: We’re trying to use the survey to spur constructive conversations about what’s happening. The data makes equity issues irrefutable. We can now say, “Here’s a pattern. What are we going to do about it?”

ANNELISE: The Equity in Architecture Survey is so useful because we ask questions in a very objective way. We do not lead questions with a biased statement, such as “do you feel this?” We ask specific questions. For example, we asked: “Are you an architect?” “Did you graduate from architecture school?” “Do you have friends in your current firm?” “We then cross-tabulated these objective responses with questions about their work load.

SASKIA: The 2014 survey and the widespread publicity that resulted caused many firms large and small around the country to take a deeper look at their own cultures, policies and behaviors.  It provided both leaders of practice and staff with a language and a series of benchmarks by which to better understand their own challenges.  Whether it is in revamping their performance review process or better integrating not only flexible policies but flexible culture, architectural firms are slowly but surely making significant changes!  I am particularly interested in how this impacts people in practice and have focused on that rather than broader policy questions.

What has been a consistent topic over the years? What’s emergent?

ROSA: The topic of success and how it is defined is on the forefront. We’re learning that success is not merely scaling your business and making the most money. Although there is value in growing the firm practice financially, we are finding that that more people value success in their careers through meaningful work, working with talented and collaborative teams, and control of work-life integration — a swinging pendulum between professional and personal growth.

ANNELISE: Work-life integration is an emerging key phrase in many industries and we are looking at the ways in which the architecture industry is acknowledging this need and making it a reality. Professional growth — getting promoted, working on various projects, leading groups, and thriving in the work environment help achieve equity. But nurturing personal growth — supporting family needs, individual goals and giving meaning to work are just as important. with monetary recognition and increased responsibility. They go hand in hand.

LILIAN: Adding to the topic of success — it is about being able to curate the life you want. For example, we crossed paths with a woman who was an artist, and while she doesn’t have children, she values work-life integration. She wanted a four-day work week with Fridays off to devote to work different from her day to day, which was for her, a wellspring of inspiration. She discussed her needs and made them clear to her employer and team. After a while, because her colleagues saw her coming back to work refreshed and energized, they behaved in ways that were protective and encouraging of her schedule. By communicating what was important to her, this talented designer was able to structure her week in a way that was more focused on being present and joyful.

SASKIA:  Flexibility is a consistent topic. There is no doubt that men and women are looking to develop work and life integration that isn’t just about being able to juggle or “time manage” more effectively. Whether you’re a parent or have a strong passion outside of architecture, you want to be able to do it all, and I think there are some amazing examples of people and firms figuring out how to make that happen! And as an evolution of the thinking about flexibility and integration, we are all increasingly cognizant that this is not solely an issue around caretaking. It is instead about people having multifaceted passions and interests that have value to themselves and their employers.

I have seen an increasing awareness and focus on the importance of thinking through the promotion process in a much more rigorous way. I’d like to think the Equity by Design 2014 research had a hand in helping to raise awareness of developing a transparent and consistent promotion process reliant less on relationships and more on assessment of actual performance and achievements.  

I also know that many larger firms are grappling with issues of mentorship and sponsorship. Many have had programs in place that haven’t always been effective for a diverse audience in the long term. And so how can we not only encourage mentorship, but create systems of sponsorship for women, for people of color, and allow everyone to benefit from those relationships?

How do you foster equity within leadership + within the EQxD symposium itself?

ANNELISE: At the symposium, we will present the early findings of the 2016 survey through a series of panel discussions throughout the day. In between these sessions, we’ve designed a series of diverse and interactive breakout workshops with a framework that encourages participants to engage in a dialogue of what is meaningful in their career experiences.  

JULIA: We can foster equity within leadership by encouraging others in our industry to communicate their needs, take initiative and action, and learn to negotiate. We can encourage people to fight their fears and speak up. We can also begin to think of everyone as a thought leader — from the person who has 5, 10, 15 or 25+ years of experience.

ROSA: Architects can be averse to negotiation, both within their direct work environment and when pitching a new business project. Our survey results still show that a low amount of professionals engage in negotiation. We’re trying to foster equity by providing essential skills for all professionals to overcome these obstacles —one-day negotiation sessions, for instance, to empower people and give them the right tools to know WHEN to negotiate and HOW to do it confidently and succinctly.

LILIAN: We can encourage our Talented colleagues to adopt a “just do it” attitude. If something is not happening that needs to be happening, and a person steps up and takes on that role, that person is contributing in ways that foster equity and meritocracy. Ultimately, this is the way leadership works, at any level of experience. It’s leading from any and every chair. You start taking action and say: This is what I think will make a difference. This is the future I want to be part of.




AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

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