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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?

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.

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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.

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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 practices...to 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.

 

JOIN US ON TWITTER @AIASF AND @EQUITYxDESIGN via HASHTAG #EQXDM3 on 10/29 AS WE LIVE TWEET THE SESSIONS!

 

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: Transcending the Glass Ceiling

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

Transcending the Glass Ceiling - Redefining What It Takes to Succeed

#EQxDTranscend

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

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

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

 Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

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

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

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

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

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

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

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

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

Hackathon - Mentorship Re-designed

#EQxDMentorship

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

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

 Prairna Gupta-Garg, AIA — Facilitator

Prairna Gupta-Garg, AIA — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

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

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

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

Graphing the Work-Life Equation: Different Approaches to Success

#EQxDWorkLife

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

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

 Patricia Hansen, Associate AIA — Facilitator

Patricia Hansen, Associate AIA — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator? 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

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

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Disrupting Implicit Bias

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

Disrupting Impicit Bias in Design and Practice

#EQxDDisruptBias

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

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

 

  Patricia G. Alarcón, RA  — Facilitator

Patricia G. Alarcón, RA — Facilitator

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

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

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

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

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

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

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

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

#EQxDM3 Behind the Scenes: Being a Change Agent

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

Being a Change Agent — Tools, Techniques and Scalability

#EQxDChangeAgent

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

Thought Leaders and Facilitator:

Why were you interested in being a facilitator?

 Neelanjana Sen, AIA

Neelanjana Sen, AIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out all the #EQxDM3 Break-Out Sessions Here

AIASF Equity by Design Symposium Sponsors

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