What challenges women face everyday working as an architect?
I Am a young Hispanic women who is interested in becoming a future architect. Architecture in the world is seen as a man career. I like to take challenges in life but I can't wait to know the challenges. Thank you.
Hello Keira, Unfortunately there are males out there amongst us that feel women are not as qualified. I can say I am not one of them. I served in the Army and seen women out preform men everyday. I also have a strong opinionated wife with two little girls 11 &2 who I hope do not face that type of oppression. If they do I know my wife and I have taught them not to give in to them but be bigger. I’ve been watching this question for a week hopeful that a female architect could answer your question.
I am very impressed about how aware you are of social issues in the work place but I feel you shouldn’t worry about that as a primary challenge in architecture. Architecture is a design field where many female architects have been successful like Zaha Hadid. Research her and other female Architects for an inspiration. I suggest focusing on you and your goal of being an architect. Draw and design something constantly. Don’t let they naysayers rent space in your head.
I hope I gave you some encouraging information. Good luck in your future endeavors!
Jeffrey recommends the following next steps:
Hello Keira! I am a licensed architect in the state of Florida. I mostly design hospitals. The challenges I face as a female architect, I believe, are the same challenges any professional women, or man, face: Work life balance, professional growth opportunities, and fair pay. I currently serve in a leadership position at my firm and have some understanding of promotion opportunities and pay scale for our firms employees. I know I am paid fairly and competitively and I have been promoted in advance of some of my peers, male and female. While you are correct that architecture may be perceived as a man's profession even today, in the field itself the professionals are very welcoming and even seek out diversity. Its a 50/50 split of men to women in our education system (which is a path of either a 5 year Bachelors' degree or a Masters degree). The ratio of licensing after this drops to 28% women of the women getting licensed; its assumed because of the timing - the licensing process can take 3-5 years and most people start families by the time they're done spending their 20's in school. Some women simply choose to change their priorities after this. The career is demanding - its incredibly difficult to control when creativity will come, and equally as difficult to stop the excitement of it when you're solving a design problem. This complexity, which most designers find exhilirating, can be a major factor in poor work life balance and elevated stress of the job. However, more architecture firms these days recognize this and are accomodating designers and architects with flexible work schedules and equipping them with the abilities to work remotely/from home. As with any career, fair pay and promotion opportunities are always a concern, but I can testify that advocating for yourself, outperforming your peers and keeping track of your personal progress are all noticed by good firm leaders. If a female (or male) architect were to find themself in a firm that didn't recognize it, then find a better one! Good luck with your career choices and I do hope you strongly consider the rewarding career of architect!
If you want to pursue a career in Architecture, don't let the gender inequalities scare you - in fact, I believe that the dedication of female architects and their excellence in the field is more and more closing the gap and is one of the best ways to overcome these challenges and create a more equitable profession.
Redina recommends the following next steps:
The hardest part is simply being a woman and having the same kinds of multiple responsibilities as any woman would in any career. Although men are much more aware of splitting family responsibilities and chores than they used to be, much of housework and child care still falls on the women. You may be working and competing against men who have stay at home wives. This is compounded if you are single and have a house and yard! To make matters worse, architecture is a profession where there is frequently a lot of overtime required. Finding work-life balance is always a struggle. However, it is an interesting career where you are constantly learning. There are multiple niches within the profession for multiple personality types and skill sets. As a Hispanic woman, you will find opportunities as offices work for diversity. You will also find challenges. I believe the profession is much more open to women than it was when I began. This is pretty general. However on a professional level- communication is key. Learning to communicate verbally person to person is important, presenting designs may require some public speaking, written communication and graphic communication via drawings, sketches, construction documents are critical parts of being an architect. Learning to negotiate is important. You will also find that an ability to teach yourself is vital - there is so much to learn and then have to apply. Creating relationships within and outside the profession is important because it is a profession with boom/bust business cycles. Finally, reading comprehension is important. The construction codes are written in convoluted language sometimes and business contracts have a lot of legalese and fine print. Both require careful and multiple readings for full comprehension. My best suggestion is to see if you could work in an office or offices to see if you like it. This may be a challenge as you may not have any pertinent skill sets yet, but it would also help you see which ones would align with your natural talents.
Charlotte recommends the following next steps:
Ravi recommends the following next steps:
Before taking up a career in architecture, I was asked this question by everyone around me, " In a male dominated industry, do you think you can excel, work and build your life around it?" I fought against all odds and focused all my energy to pursue my passion. Every country and every industry has its own pros and cons, it is up to us whether we work hard to create a space for ourselves or we just keep talking about it. It does not matter anymore what our gender or race is. What matters is what we believe in. As women, we are often taken for granted and not considered authoritative. That may be true in many countries but the industry is changing. There are architects like Jeanne Gang and Neri Oxman who are changing the stereotypical mindset and encouraging young architects to have faith in their passion. Over coming these challenges is the first step towards success and I am trying to do exactly that!
I have been displaced from my place of origin due to various factors.
And from experience I can tell you that YES, architecture at least in Latin America is run by men.
However, never stop fighting for your dreams and may your convictions lead you to achieve respect in the profession.
I'm a female architect with 30 years in the profession. When I was in college, there were at least as many women as men, sometimes more. I even had a pregnant classmate one semester who was focused enough to get her work done early, just in case her delivery date came before finals. My college faculty in PA and TX did not distinguish students by gender or background. There was equity in judgments of student work. Definitely, there were more white male faculty at that time, but not exclusively.
Once in the workforce, I was judged on my work and how professionally I presented myself. On a job site, if I treat the others as knowledgeable craftsmen and professionals, then they return the respect and treat my design & code knowledge with respect. The rare times when a contractor does not show me respect, I calmly and clearly express my need to be heard. Occasionally, a contractor goes into defensive default mode and raises their voice and body language. Then, I back up a step, answer calmly and professionally, and prepare to leave the conversation if their behavior does not change. It usually does.
No matter how experienced one is, often, it is best to answer field questions with "I need to look into that and will get back to you very soon." This is because further reflection on the problem at hand will bring more information into the solution. In school or at work: study, prepare, and be kind. Others will respect you, then. Male or female, if you don't treat others with empathy, then they may not treat you well either.
Yes, there are fewer women than men in leadership of architecture firms, currently. It is increasing, but not quickly. In some cases, it may be that women don't want the roles. The issue of gaining a foothold into the profession, including licensure, at the same time as having children is significant. It also may be that people naturally mentor those who are similar, in whom they see their younger selves. If you want the leadership opportunities, you will need to be confident, assertive, and ask for them. Provide examples of your accomplishments, experience, and training. The same goes for compensation. You will need to advocate for yourself.
There can be a work-life balance in the profession. You may need to help your supervisors understand the time it will take to accomplish the work. Not all leaders have good training in scheduling, and most of us are optimists when it comes to how long something will take. Plus, architects enjoy the design stage of a project and often take more time at it than they have planned to take. If you need to work long hours for a deadline, request compensation time off immediately after the deadline to take care of yourself. Long hours for low pay are not a requirement of the profession! Choose your workplace carefully. In general, I have found better work hours and benefits working for government and large employers. Small employers can provide more individual allowances / flexibility, but often it comes with a loss of compensation.
Stay safe. Be careful in any environment, to not be unnecessarily at risk. Have a trusted buddy.
IT does not matter what sex you are...........it's your spirit, your passion, your commitment, and networking skills that will help open doors.
During my 20 yrs .......I have had a wonderful and sour experience working under female architects. The sour experience was due to the fact that they could not TEACH.......very talented but just could manage/teach people. In the other hand, my fellow female architects, were great teachers and great designers. You may wonder why I said "sales person"...........everything in this world is about sales.......you have to be able to express your ideas in your drawings BUT you also have to use words to sell it to a potential client. Architects have to go get projects for the firm and in school they don't teach you the art of the deal.
So commit yourself to learning freehand sketching and architectural lettering (you'll see the reaction of others when they see YOUR style, not a computer generated that 20,000 others are using )
commit to learning REVIT/ AutoCAD Architecture/ Sketchup/ RHINO/ Photoshop/ 3D modeling/ Photography/ and especially DYNAMO.......this is the future in architecture ....it's pretty much coding. Look up therevitkid on youtube.
commit to learning from the best in architecture and construction
commit to building a shed.......yes! you must have the know how a building is constructed, it will help when you are putting detail dwgs together. (General contractors are looking for 3D REVIT designers for Design Build projects) They make lots of money from the mistakes in the drawings.......its called change orders.
commit to one day opening up your own firm......and creating your own signature style! (that's where you make the real six figures $$$)
commit to NEVER ever giving up........Nunca te rindas!
Mónica A.’s Answer
Yes, there are more men practicing architecture than women. As a woman architect that has been practicing for 30 years, this is mostly challenging in the respect that early in your career people will assume you are an interior designer/ try to make you the one answering the phone and they will try to pay you less. My advice to you is pursue what you love and do it! And while it is important to be a team player, make sure that your co-workers are doing an equal share of the non-architectural work that everyone has to do, remind your employers about equal pay laws so that get nervous and make sure there is pay parity and every single time someone calls you a designer, correct them and say you are an architect. (Sadly, I had to do this just yesterday.) Good luck!!!!! Where do you live, I can suggest good programs in your area.
Our industry is male-dominated but that is changing. Ultimately to go into Architecture you need to have a genuine interest in it and develop sharp researching and people management skills. I worked for Zaha Hadid at the London office and admire her work greatly, she is the example that women can excel in our field, but it doesn't come easy. Long hours and extreme focus are needed!
I have my own firm now and often times I find myself the only woman amongst men in construction sites and meetings, I've learnt to work with that and have seen through time that more and more women are involved in our profession.
Love what you do!!