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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.
#architecture

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Jeffrey’s Answer

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:

Research female architects and know their story.
Thank you comment icon Excellent words Jeffrey! Daniela A. Pompucci
Thank you comment icon Sensitive and thoughtful answer Vincent Takeuchi
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Redina’s Answer

Hello Kiera! Your question is very relevant and I'm glad to share my own experience. I graduated with a master's degree in Architecture construction and city in Italy. Although the graduate program has a high percentage of female students, it doesn't translate into the same numbers when it comes to employment in the field: most architects in Italy are indeed men - your concern is therefore understandable. Nevertheless I am quite sure that you can succeed in being a famous female architect as well, by the same rules that apply to make architects: hard work, passion, talent. The challenges depend a lot on what you are willing to do after graduation. If you want to work as a designer, as mentioned in the comments below, you can take inspiration from great female architects (not only contemporary ones, also check out some women architects of the modern movement; a nice research on the topic is Women's creativity since the modern movement, you can find the publications in their website http://www.momowo.eu/). If you are pursuing an academic career, the trend of the recent years is the increasing of women researching Architecture design and planning and related fields, with many female researchers pioneering emerging research fields. I have personally found harder as a female some positions in the conventional construction industry, such as construction site manager or coordinator. As far as Italy is concerned, a male architect is often seen as more suitable for the position. Nevertheless, there are many unconventional construction sites related to participatory processes, educational workshops, heritage rehabilitation etc in which the female architects presence is relevant and increasing.
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:

Think of the type of career you want to pursue within the field.
Accordingly, do some research on successful examples of female architects/researchers.
Consider the situation concerning gender equality in the country you want to work and live in.
In spite of the results of your research and while aware of the challenges, don't give up :)
Thank you comment icon Well rounded response from an international point of view. Having lived in Denmark and Spain, I can say there are different attitudes toward females in a typically male-dominated field. Denmark is very liberal, and women’s universal suffrage was accomplished in 1820, 100 years before the US. So. Women’s equality is at a much higher level than in most of the world. Other western countries tend to be more sexist. It’s a situation that can be overcome by brave and smart women, like Kamela Harris, the Vice-President elect in US. She has broken both the gender and color line, and I believe other determined women will continue to do that...! Vincent Takeuchi
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Roxanne’s Answer

As an architect in NYC, I’m generally the only woman in meetings and on construction sites. There are other young female engineers I work with sometimes, (It’s actually exciting every time I get to work with another woman- I can tell they feel the same!) I only feel like I have to extra prove myself within my own company. I make sure to always know my stuff so that in meetings I can always come across very confident and with answers. I never have an issue with anyone doubting my decisions. And I think you should try to excel at all aspects from code to design to construct ability, it’s important to know a great bit of everything even the engineering pieces, I’ve had to be able to know if all of the engineers are understanding and making decisions with all the information.
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Linaea’s Answer

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!

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Michael’s Answer

An Architecture Firm is friendly to women. You will get a fair opportunity to get hired at an Architecture Firm, but I do notice that there is not a lot of minority or women ownership of architecture firms or not a lot of minority upper management. I am not sure if this is because there are not a lot of Hispanics or other minorities in the business. At the job site women may get treated differently because construction is a male dominated job. If you know what you are talking about and command respect you should be fine. If you experience any sexual harassment, there are laws and company standards there to protect you. I strongly suggest that you pursue architecture because the industry needs more Female Hispanics in the business especially that you do your best and become upper management or own your own firm to break the trend of mostly Male Caucasian dominance of the business.
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Madylan’s Answer

Hi there!

As a recent graduate from Texas Tech University, I would research on the student body specific to the college of architecture. It was about half women and great amount of cultural diversity. From my experience, it was a very consistent and did not change with gender or race. Educational environment becomes different from professor to professor. However, once I found the right ones, they helped my prosper more than others had previously.

As for the professional work environment, I have had large success and it is growing for women rapidly. It's a different work culture than it has been historically. As you progress in education levels and onto licensure, the more dominant gender is still male (https://www.ncarb.org/nbtn2017/demographics). With that said, I have had many different internships and work roles that have all been equally as fair to me as anyone else, regardless of gender. I have not personally experienced any hindering circumstances.

There is nothing you can't achieve as a women in architecture and hope for you the best if you choose to pursue it.

Thank you comment icon Encouraging response! Vincent Takeuchi
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Bandar’s Answer

Architecture is a gender neutral specialization, some of the world's most renown architects are women like the Late Zaha Hadid and others, please dont stop at this point and go behind your passion :)
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victoria’s Answer

Hi Keira;

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!!

Victoria, @vg_studio_
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Andrea’s Answer

Hi Kiera,

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.

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Alexander’s Answer

Never undervalue yourself is key. People often write off women as interior designers, which is wrong. I’ve had mentors both female and male, all have added to the knowledge that is forming me as a person. Men only write off women because of their own insecurities so any aggression should be seen as reflection. That being said deadlines are rough and people get mad. This is a stressful career filled with growth and knowledge if you invest the time. Do not be afraid of pursing this field though. Many of the peers I look up to are female (women tend to be more determined and get their RA faster, or so I feel) only speaking from my own experience. If you love design follow this path, there is so much to be discovered
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Mónica A.’s Answer

Hi Keira. I am an architect, graduated since 2008 and I want to tell you that from a very young age I felt this pressure to which you refer. However, as in any other field, as long as you give your best and have a personality that allows you to carry out your personal goals, that will not interfere with your professional development.
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Doug’s Answer

Hi Kiera...es un placer de ayudarte. It's my pleasure to help you with this question. I'm a latino but I see myself as the artist, problem solver, psychologist, planner, designer, and a sales person. I never paid attention too much to what was going on in this crazy world.......I focused on who were & are the current best architects, learning the history of architecture from around the world, continuing to practice my architectural lettering and free hand sketching.........an art that is lost. I surrounded myself with others who were smarter and more talented than myself. I tell you that one day the best architect in the office I was working for flew to the NY office to interview myself and 3 others. He asked me one question....why do you want to work at our 2nd office. I responded by saying "because you are the best architect in this office and I want to learn from you and be your right hand man" ..........a week later I was flying to the Miami office. BUT, my skills, responsibility, commitment, sacrifice, team player, teaching others, being able to earn the trust and being myself.........got me 5 years of unbelievable knowledge from my mentor.
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!
Bendiciones!
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Linda’s Answer

I'm not sure I agree that architecture is seen as a man's profession. The schools and firms which I have joined have had gender balance, overall. In a broad view, it makes total sense to me to have more females doing the planning, and more men doing the constructing. Women can do both, of course, but may need to use more tools when physical strength is required in construction.

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.
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Yerlin’s Answer

Hello Keira, I am a Latina immigrant who has had to change countries in Latin America due to the lack of acceptance of women in the architecture industry.
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.

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Krina’s Answer

Hi Keira,
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!
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Ginger’s Answer

It is true that women in Architecture do struggle, but as more women feel called and empowered to enter this field, the ratio-gap of male and females are closing. More critical is the question that a person should ask themselves when entering this career field if this is a profession they are truly interested and gifted to enter into. There is so much that an Architect can specialize in within the industry from design type, to construction specialties. There is a place for women in this industry. Dont let the historical statistics of the male/female ratio-gap keep you from having a fulfilling career path in something you might love to do!
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