NCARB Live: Women in Architecture

NCARB Live: Women in Architecture


Katie: Hi, my name is Katie Gerfen. I’m the
Executive Editor of Architect Magazine, and I’m here at NCARB’s Washington, DC, office
today to talk about a very important topic: women in architecture. I’m joined by Anna
Barbour, Margo Jones, and Diane Leeson, and we’re going to have a great conversation about
the state of the industry today. So ladies, I always like to start at the beginning.
So do you want to tell me a little bit about what you do now and what made you decide to
pursue architecture in the first place? Anna: Oh, sure. I always knew I wanted to
be an architect since the fourth grade. I visited a development that was still under
construction, called Seaside in Florida, [which] is now a new urban development. I was there
on the street and I just kind of realized this was a special place that somebody made.
And I realized that this is what I wanted to do. I pursued drafting in high school.
I was one of the only women there. I went through college and I got my master’s degree
from Virginia Tech and always worked in firms and interned. Now I’m an architect at Shalom
Baranes Associates in Washington, DC. We do multi-family, commercial, and some government
work. Katie: Great.
Margo: So, Anna, you beat me by five years. I knew in ninth grade that I wanted to be
an architect, and I grew up in a suburban Boston community that had a lot of architects,
including women architects. So I had role models at a young age.
But I also got an undergrad degree in liberal arts, and then went to graduate school in
Boston. Worked for six years after getting my M.Arch. and started my own practice. That
was 30 years ago. And now I have a 10-person firm that I share with a partner. And we do
mostly schools, and it’s in Western Massachusetts, which is a rural area.
Katie: Great. You’re involved with NCARB as well, aren’t you, Margo?
Margo: Oh, yeah. That’s right. Katie: A little bit?
Margo: I’ve been involved with NCARB since 2007 when I volunteered to be on the Internship
Committee. And that was very interesting to me. I kept up the activity and now I’m second
vice president of the Board. Katie: Fantastic.
Diane: I feel like I have a similar story. I felt like at a young age, I was interested
in architecture because my family and I moved to a new development, so ours was one of the
first houses on the block built. And all around me there [were] a bunch of stick-built single-family
houses, and I was really interested in that. I think in fourth grade, my dad was saying,
“You really have a strong interest in what seems to be art and math, and architecture
would probably be a good career path for you. And you have an uncle in architecture.” And
he kind of led me down that path. So after that, I went to school at Philadelphia
University, got my Bachelor of Architecture, and when I graduated, came down to D.C. for
my first job. I just feel like [by] being an architect, you can help people, and therefore
that’s one of the things that I like about architecture. Currently I’m working on a health
care project, so I’m helping design the hospitals for the doctors to help the patients get better.
Katie: That’s great. And you’re at Perkins+Will here in D.C., right?
Diane: I am, yes. Katie: Fantastic. And you’re also pursuing
your license? Diane: I am pursuing my license. I’m still
in the early stages, so I feel like I do have a long way to go, but there’s a lot of support
out there for me. Katie: That’s great. Well, one of the first
things that I think we need to talk about when talking about women in architecture is
the idea of a gender gap in the industry. It’s something that’s often discussed.
But with three women who are working at different points in the field, I’d love to get your
perspective on is there a gender gap? And what do you think that gender gap is? How
would you define it as it affects you in architecture?
Anna: Well, in the firm that I’m at, there are about a 120 architects or architecture
professionals. I would say that we’re about 50-50 as far as men and women. All of the
senior roles are men, but there’s a lot of opportunity for development. If you’re interested
in project management or design, you show the initiative, you show the passion and the
concern, there’s been opportunities for upward movement. And I think that as long as you
can support yourself, put yourself out there, and be confident in what you want, there is
opportunity out there for you. Margo: Well, I experienced a lot of [this]
gender gap as I was getting trained, and throughout work. In architecture school, it just so happened
that the year I started, I was the only woman in my class. And that was hard because I picked
the graduate school I went to because it had a good record for more women.
Later it evened out and was a very diverse class. We all had our own talents. I learned
early on that people bring their own strengths. Women certainly add a lot to the profession
and have certain creative capabilities that are amazing.
There aren’t that many woman-owned firms. I think in Massachusetts there are probably
more than in other areas of the country, but I’ve been very fortunate to have my own firm.
I think that it is a function of how much you put your nose to the grindstone and really
work hard. Convey to other people, like clients, that you’re capable, competent, and you believe
in yourself. And so it takes a certain amount of assertiveness and overcoming the odds,
but you can make it. A lot of women are joining the ranks. And I’m glad we’re talking about
it, because there shouldn’t be such a gap between the amount of graduates and equity
partners at large firms. It should be even, so we’ve got to do something to make it better.
Katie: Absolutely. Diane: I don’t see a whole lot of female architects
above me that I can look to, I guess, as roles models. But at the same time, it [has] been
pointed out to me [that] there is a gender gap. And only when I think about it do I kind
of notice it. But until then I haven’t really paid too much attention to that, which is
kind of interesting. Katie: Yeah, definitely. The kind of things
that you pointed out is the gap between the number of women in architecture school and
the number of women in leadership roles. And one of the stats that’s often talked about
is the 32 percent. Fifty percent of the people in architecture school are female, but only
18 to 21 [percent]-depending on the numbers that you’re looking at-are women architects.
So there is that missing 32 percent gap there. What do you think are some of the things that
we can do to increase the speed with which women get licensed, but also keep that momentum
going up through the ranks of the industry and into the ranks of a leadership in firms?
Anna: I think that making [the path to] licensure part of your education, as part of the track
that, “I want to be a licensed architect so I’m going to school, and then I’m going to
pursue my licensure as soon as I am done with school,” is a really good way to think about
it. I’ve always thought that my license was the end of my education, and it did take me
quite a while to get there, but I’m glad that I was able to achieve that.
I think that your brain is fresher with taking tests, being able to recall structures, and
use different things that you’re asked for in the exams. And if you can [take the exam
concurrently with] IDP, then it would be a great way just to get them done, get them
over with. And when it’s time to have a family, it’s time to do something else or travel,
then you have the opportunity to always come back to architecture with your license, with
your credibility that says, “I can practice here, or I can go wherever I want to and be
able to practice.” It’s really something that is a valuable tool that you should have.
Margo: Right. And the NCARB Board and staff are working hard to streamline internship
and also make the ARE a little bit more efficient. I mean, I got registered in two and a half
years after graduate school, and that was because you had to sit for the exam three
days in a row and you just had to do it. Being able to space it out has meant that it’s lengthened
the time to pass it. Also, internship [has] got[ten] longer and
more complex, and so we’re trying to streamline it, keep the rigor and keep it [a] credential
to protect the public. But we’re gonna try to make it a little bit more streamlined so
the people can get licensed before that critical period where you’re having a family and you
need to be able to take time off for child care. That’s what I think.
I mean it’s very complex issue because we also need [a] society that’ll support child
care, and taking leave, and having a child. You know, on the [Missing 32% Project] website,
there’s this graphic of how there isn’t much child care or you’re not paid for maternity
leave very much in this country. So we have to address those kinds of issues as well.
Katie: Absolutely, and those are issues that obviously contribute to this idea of women
not getting as far up those leadership ranks. So I mentioned taking time off. What is your
feeling on an approach to some kind of work-life balance; be it for family, be it for life,
be it what have you, outside of the office, and how do you manage that within your own
life? Margo: Oh, I’ve always put that as priority-to
have a balance of work-life and get exercise and be healthy, and I think that in the long
run, [this] makes you a better architect because you’re brain’s fresh, and you’re not a workaholic
as much. Diane: And also, healthy employees are happy
employees. So it does definitely balance out there.
Margo: Right. And so you’re more creative when you’re at work. We have flex-time in
our office and paternity, family leave. It’s gender neutral. We try to be as supportive
as possible, and I think many other firms are doing it now.
Diane: My firm also has a very similar mentality. They do offer family leave, whether it be
the father or the mother. In addition to work-life balance, there’s a lot of flexible time in
that you can work remotely in extreme situations, [which] has to be worked out depending on
the office or whatever the case may be. Because of technology these days, you can
take your laptop home, and remote in, and do some work or answer emails. Knowing that
you are out of the office but set your own expectations and your own standards: “I’m
working from this hour to this hour, and I’m not gonna answer my emails at two in the morning
all the time, or that sort of thing. Katie: Absolutely. And one of the things that
we’ve been talking [about] as we’ve been discussing this issue today is how important both firm
structure, but also mentorship is, to helping women make their way through the profession-any
profession really, but especially architecture. Can you tell me a little bit about how mentorship
has either affected you all or how you engage in mentorship?
Anna: Well, both Diane and I are both really active in our local AIA chapters. And they
both have a Young Architects Forum. We have mentor programs
developed that will help place people who are looking for mentors.
But on a personal level, I found mentors through people that I trust, that I work with, that
I see how they work and interact, and I pretty much understand it, like it, and I want to
know more. So I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to be open with people, ask questions,
and have a trust level that they are happy to answer and kind of be there for me.
So I think it’s important when you’re starting out, maybe you need to seek out the AIA as
a way to start finding a mentor. Otherwise, maybe there’s somebody in your office that
you think, “You know, wow, that person is really smart. I wonder if I could just ask
them a question, and then have that self-confidence, have that assertiveness.” Just ask, you never
know. They might be ready to spill their guts about how great architecture is.
Diane: Right. And similarly, my mentors, I feel like, are the managers even within my
project team. There can be a little bit of a structure within a project team of the intern
and then the project architect, the project manager. And so you always kind of want to
look to the next level above you, like I want to be in the next position. What are they
doing that I need to learn how to do? And so in that sort of a mentorship process, they
can teach you what they know so that you can go up to the next step.
Katie: So mentorship kind of affects the career track?
Margo: Oh, it definitely can. I think that young, emerging professionals should feel
out the temper of the culture of a firm where they’re applying. Because the first I worked
for, the principal architect was incredibly nurturing, and supportive, and very invested
in getting all of his employees’ licensed. So he taught me a lot and set the goal, and
that was very important. Whereas the next firm I worked at, it was kind of like a salt
mine and they didn’t care if I got registered or not.
So I think you have to make some choices yourself and try to find places where they’ll support
licensure, because it really does make a difference. You need that shingle to hang up.
Katie: Yeah. Well, with mentorship often comes role models. Do you all have role models that
you look to, female architect role models that you look to as kind of strong figures
in the industry? Margo: Well, I always loved Julia Morgan.
Katie: And she just won the 2014 AIA Gold Medal.
Margo: Yeah, she did finally. She was kind of under the radar for a long time. I think
[there are] some great women architects out there practicing now. Jeanne Gang is one of
my big favorites, and Leers Weinzapfel in Boston. Quite a few.
Anna: I was really impressed when I went to the Hearst Castle and saw Julia Morgan was
the architect. I was like, “That is really cool.” We have women doing these prominent
things that are on display now for everyone to come visit, and [she’s] a great icon out
there for younger women to look up to. Diane: Down in D.C. here, Chloethiel Woodard
Smith is a big name. And she was back in the ’30s, I want to say. Working on a project
where we had to redevelop some of her existing buildings; finding out that she was a prominent
female architect here in D.C. really kind of made a mark in my mind.
Katie: Absolutely. What strengths do you think women bring to the field of architecture,
to the workplace, but also to the design profession in general?
Anna: I think women are excellent problem solvers, and there’s a creative way that problems
can be resolved. I think that a lot of women are very good at multi-tasking, and having
a lot of things on their plate, and being able to successfully manage their time, and
get all these different things done. I think that we’re good listeners.
Diane, I took what you were going to say. And men are ok too, but we just have our way
and we’re strong at a lot of things. Margo: Yeah, I think collaboration is very
important these days. In architecture, there’s not one person designing a building. It’s
a team project, and so I think that I don’t want to be over, overly stereotypical, but
women do tend to be good at collaboration and working as a team.
But I think the great thing is that the more we learn about collaboration, the more we
understand that you need a really top-notch tech person, and you need a structures guy.
You need different strengths, and so we want individuals on our team who are really strong
at a variety of tasks, and women can do lots of different tasks on those teams.
Diane: I mean, yeah, you said women are good listeners, but I feel like being females and
maybe the nurturing aspect of it, we are also good with intuition and understanding, “what
does the client really want when they’re not quite saying what they want?” Paying attention
to how they’re trying to describe something or say something, maybe that helps bring the
project forward without asking too many questions on the back-end or stalling it up.
Katie: So speaking of mentorship, role models, and what women bring to the industry, what
advice would you give to young women starting out? As somebody who’s experienced the field
for a long time and seeing this gender gap change, as somebody who’s just getting started,
and as you said, wasn’t even really aware of it until people started bringing it up
to you. What are things that you would recommend? Diane: As a young professional in the architecture
industry, I would say just continue to strive to be the best that you can be and just be
driven and ask questions, because that’s how you learn in this profession. And just find
a good support group, really male or female, but I guess mostly female, I don’t know. However
you want to see it. But a good support group that helps you move forward with your career
path. And like Anna also said in the beginning, what is it that she wants to be? How do you
get to that point? Margo: I would say that architecture is a
visual field. So drawing is very, very important. And now you draw through computers, so I think
it’s a little more challenging for women to be high-tech. But that’s what we’ve go to
do, because in the end, the drawings compel the client to do the right thing. So I would
say, learn drawing skills and keep at it. Anna: I think what we love most about being
architects is the fact that we learn something every day. And one of the things I would encourage
is to always question things, keep learning, read the right books if you don’t know something.
I’ve just started working with contracts. Read something about contract negotiation,
you know. You can just be more resourceful, and find the tools that are out there, that
are available. Ask questions. Be the most prepared person in the room when you go to
a meeting. If you don’t know the answer, that’s okay.
You can always find the answer. We were talking earlier about having to give ourselves the
pep talk, gear ourselves up for whatever. If you need your support group of friends
or fellow architects, women, to let them know that you need them, [that] they need a little
pep talk, it’s okay. And I think it’s really important that we’re
supporting each other, male or female. Encouraging, IDP, encouraging how to get hours, and doing
things. I always say, “Hey, maybe you wanna go to this lunch and learn because you might
actually use it for your test,” or something like that. So just think about who’s around
you and how you can inspire them and encourage them in daily professional life.
Katie: Great, so we’ve been talking a lot about these stats and the opportunities that are out there and we talked about the missing 32 percent, but I want to return for a minute to this
moment from NCARB by the Numbers, that only 13 percent of current supervisors are women.
We talked about mentorship and how important it is for women to get their license and get
all of it over with. But what do you think we can do about creating more opportunities,
or are there more opportunities women can take advantage of to help increase that trajectory
after they’ve gotten licensed as they try to rise up through the ranks?
Anna: I think knowing what you want and, at least, asking. It never hurts to ask. If you’re
interested in project management or if you’re interested in going to client meetings and
doing more development type things, I think all you can do is ask, and be assertive and
just be forward thinking and mobile. And the worst that they could say is “no.” I think
just being a hard worker and having a focus on what you want will definitely help.
I’d also like to say though, there are lot of women that are in firms that might not
be licensed, but they’re still working very hard. They’re very focused. And maybe for
some reason, they’re not part of that 32 percent of missing licensed architects. They’re there.
They’re just not licensed, and so we shouldn’t overlook them as a group that is also contributing
to the profession even though they don’t have a license.
Katie: Absolutely. That’s a really interesting point.
Diane: Even though you said [to] ask to get to whatever you need to be, you want to be
in client meetings and you want to be a project manager, and you just ask the person above
you, “How can I get to the next step?” Or you’ve asked to be in the client meeting and
they say “no,” well, don’t let that get you down. Just pick yourself right back up try
again, because women, I feel like, can be more internally reflective, maybe negatively
as well. Another thing I was going to mention, my office
has kind of noticed some of these trends, and they’re trying to raise awareness about
it. So there’s this diversity and inclusion initiative at Perkins+Will. They are raising
awareness throughout the offices that we have. And, you know, they’re trying to see what
we can we do about the lack of women in the higher positions, and other types of people
in other positions, and that sort of thing. Katie: It’s so important to have the discussion
we are today because if it’s not part of the general conversation, then it can be easily
be overlooked. Margo: And I also wanted to suggest that women
need to be very active in their communities; get on boards of YMCAs, volunteer here and
there, because then you connect with other potential clients and you get well known.
You develop a reputation for being responsible and eager, and that helps you get work, which
ultimately will increase your bottom line. Katie: I guess the final question is, do you
see this changing anytime soon? We talked a little bit about [that] at the beginning.
Margo, you’ve seen this, this issue evolve over time. Do you see there being significant
changes on the top [of organizations]? Margo: I was thinking about where I practice,
and I don’t think I’ve seen a big change. I think slowly there are more sort of self-proprietor
women firms and there are more women practicing. So, little by little we’re doing better. I
wish it were a bigger improvement. I think the more we talk about it and [the] more that
licensure can be streamlined [and structured to] support family issues, that things will
get better. Anna: I’m hopeful. I think that right now
we’re developing such a wonderful crop of young, promising women leaders; the next time
this conversation happens-hopefully it will be more than five years from now-there will
be more women in roles that can be more of mentors and be that woman of leadership that
can bring other people up behind them. But I think right now what the best thing we can
do is just to support each other. If it’s not a vertical way, horizontally,
if that’s the term that we choose. To just be very supportive of each other and give
the pep talks that we need when they need them.
Katie: Yeah. Absolutely. Anna: I mean it’s a very male dominated field.
When you get onto the construction site, you know, there [are] maybe one or two women.
It’s really. So you have to just grin and bear it and be the smartest person in the
room and just go for it. Katie: You have to stand up for yourself.
Anna: Yeah, you do, right? It’s not easy. Margo: But it’s happening, which is good.
There are a lot of good architects out there who are women.
Katie: Well, thank you all so much. I want turn to our virtual room here for some Q&A.
We have our first question already from the webinar. The question is from Rosa Sheng of
the 32% [Project]: We mentioned earlier that you can advance your career if you work hard
and show initiative, but what about being typecast as a project manager for women versus
as a design lead? Do you think there is an issue of typecasting that can happen?
Anna: Well, I think if you’re a strong designer and you show graphically that you’re able
to do it, then I don’t want to say that you’re going to be pigeon-holed as just the pencil
pusher or the person who’s making all the meetings happen. I think if the initiative
is there and you have a good graphic sense that any good designer should be able to be
equal. Margo: Yeah. I think the big firms value product.
And the product is design, so if you’re good at it and you can do it quickly, you’ll get
promoted for sure. Diane: And going along with the multitasking
that, it’s a characteristic women can be good at. If you can design, you can also manage
or you can take that opportunity. Margo: We have several women designers in
our office that are really strong. They’re not at principal level, but they’re still
working and getting everything done, and I think if that’s your strength and that’s what
you want your strength to be, then by all means, give me the pep talk. It’s a call.
Katie: We’ve got another question, from Fahria-hope that I’m pronouncing that right, but I gave
my best shot. The question is, “Some males in senior positions feel that women can’t
earn the respect on the construction site that a man can. How do you deal with men who
will not give you the same respect because you are female?”
Margo: You know, those guys aren’t even respected anymore. I was thinking about that. We have
a very crackerjack project manager on one of our construction sites. And it’s a tough
job, and it’s a historic preservation job. And she is on top of it all and she does great.
Everybody respects her. So I think there are the occasional old-time sexist guys but, you
know, they get sidelined. Anna: It’s true. I’m the only woman that goes
to our construction projects, and I’ve been very lucky-I feel like I’m treated with respect.
They want my opinion. They want my decision-making skills there, and I feel like, if everybody’s
respectful of each other, that’s a really great way to start.
And to assume that just because I’m a woman, you can push me around or whatever. You’re
going to find out really fast that that’s not going to happen. I just think that unfortunately
there are people that exist like that. And in lots of different professions you just
have to rise above it, and I feel sorry for them.
Margo: And I’ve gotten into some shouting matches with those types, you just got to
go up against them and shut them down. Anna: Give it right back.
Margo: Exactly. Katie: Well, that sort of leads directly into
our next question from Slade: “What are your experiences with family-life and work-life
conflict? How do you navigate [these] often-fought relationships?”
Anna: Well, I struggle everyday with that work-life-balance thing. I mean, obviously,
when you want to do a good job sometimes it’s hard to draw that line. You know, say I’m
going home at 6 p.m. every day. But I also wake up early every day; I work out. I’d get
all the things done that I will get done. You know, I make time for friends. I make
time for other events, my husband. And sometimes it’s really hard to have that
everyday expectation that you’re going to go home. But I
think when you can be a little more rigid with your schedule, unlike myself-I’m not
a good example. I say, “I’m going to be gone and I’m going
to manage my time when I’m in the office. And I’m focused 100 percent while I’m here.
And when I’m gone, please respect that. I’m here tomorrow and that your question
can wait.” I think it’s really important that if you
can do that, and start off in a firm, or wherever you are, or just start right now. I’m not
going to answer your call at eight [in the evening]. And then people will understand
and start to respect that. Diane: Yeah, I would say don’t let them walk
all over you. As much as you can live that balance, “this is the box that I’m in.” I
don’t know if you would say it like that, but this is my time where I can give it to
you. And this is the time that I need for myself, so you have to figure out-how much
time can I give to each [project]. I’m [out] the door at 6 p.m., and if you leave typically
every day at six and people see that you’re leaving at six, they don’t expect you to stay
until eight-unless of course there is a deadline, which, of course, you’ll stay and help out.
Margo: This is where I recommend owning your own firm (laughs). I get to call the shots
and it’s always been hard. It was really hard on my girls [when they were] young to balance
work and family life. But they had a happier mom because she was out in the world finding
satisfaction at her jobs. So I think that it’s worth it, but it is a struggle. I would
hope that there would be more structures in place for day care centers and more family
support for everybody. That sort of thing. Katie: Absolutely. Our next question is from
Melissa who asks, “What is the best way to get our male colleagues involved in our efforts
towards gender equality in the work?” Anna: I’m just going into a pop culture reference
for a second. Emma Watson was just recently, I think, at the United Nations. And she was
saying that feminism isn’t really about women anymore, but it’s about men and women together.
And I think that a lot of times there [are] guys everywhere. I’m married to one and (laughing).
I think men are sharing more responsibilities at home, you know. There’s a lot more stay-at-home
dads. There is a lot more equality happening and
it’s not like a Mad Men’s world anymore. It’s a mad woman’s world. But I think that there’s
a lot more happening now and we could just still be friends with these guys, and they
just need to understand that we’re their equals. I feel that a lot of my contemporaries view
me as an equal. And I feel that respect is a mutual thing. And as long as you have that,
it’s a great place to start. Margo: And you need to correct sexist language
when it happens. I used to correct all the sexist letters that I would get. “Dear Mr.
Jones,” because they would assume that the firm was owned by a man. So you just have
to be alert and bring us all along. But I do think that in general, American professionals
want what’s best for everybody, and they aren’t being prejudice in various ways.
Anna: Absolutely. That sounds like it’s already underway in your firm,
Margo: Yeah. Anna: Which is already raising the level of
discussion. Diane: Awareness. I would say, talk to the
people that you know in your office and just raise the awareness. Make it known that we
are equal or we should be on the same page, and don’t take advantage of one or the other.
Anna: One of my friends was just saying that she’s the only woman in her firm, and she
feels that she has typecast as well. Maybe you should go to a firm where there are more
women? I don’t know. It’s just a shame, and if you can’t change their mind then move on.
Make it your world. Diane: Now that I think about it, in my office
there are a couple of fathers who have really young kids, and they come into the office
at 7 a.m., but they leave at 4 p.m. to pick up their kids. So they make it work. Also
not just the females, too. I guess they work it out with their families.
I guess she would drop them off at day care and he picks them up. So there is some sort
of way to work it out. You just have to make it known to your managers that I’m leaving
at four, I’m coming in at seven, that sort of thing.
Margo: There is responsibility then. Katie: Our next question from Erin is actually
on a similar point. She asks, “You each talked about
work-life balance, but do you think that the desire for marriage and family is holding
women back from becoming licensed?” Anna: I think if we think about licensure
as just a continuation of re-education, then no, I think even though married people get
licensed, and have kids, and get licensed too, it just gets harder. It really does get
harder. And I think if you can still be in the mentality of, “I’m a student, I’m still
learning, I’m gonna take this test and I’m done.” That would help out a lot.
It’s not to say that anybody who’s been working and gets licensed shouldn’t be able to get
back into this swing of things. It takes a year of commitment to really do it. I would
encourage everybody who wants to have the family, husbands, wives, or whatever. Just
try to get it out of the way, get it done. You’ll feel much better when your weekends
are yours again. Diane: Yeah, I’m taking the exams, and I still
have very similar advice. Take the exams as soon as you can, and just do it before life
happens. I know life is always going to be happening, [and there’s something to] hold
you back. Katie has some really good points. Katie: You were fortunate enough to have taken
the test right out of school. We have a question here from Luz: “What would you say to women
who have found themselves stalled from getting their license because of having a family?
I need some encouragement.” Anna: It’s never too late.
Margo: It’s never too late at all. And in fact, if you go in that 32% [Project] website,
there is an interview with a woman who had four kids.
Anna: Yes, she took a 20 year hiatus herself and then she came back to learn architecture.
Margo: Girl, c’mon. Don’t skip a beat. You can get back in and you’ll enjoy it. It’s
very satisfying. It’s a wonderful field. You get to do all kinds of interesting things
every day, as you said. Solve a lot of problems. Anna: And if you’re getting back into it,
most of the times your local AIA chapters will have ARE prep sessions. You don’t have
to do it alone. There are tons of support groups out there. If you are really intimidated
about it, just start finding other people, and they could be younger than you. Don’t
be worried about it, you know? And it always helps to have a study buddy.
I took the test with somebody else in my office-that made us accountable. There’s just lots of
encouragement out there if you’re ready to start taking it-it’s there. Do it.
Margo: Never too late. Anna: Never too late. Right.
Katie: Our next question is from Rachel, who asks, “How do you think or what is a good
way to request an equal salary to men?” Margo: Well, I’m glad there’s the magazine
Design Intelligence, because they survey our potential firms across the country, and it
gives a good range of what you should expect if you’re an first-year intern, second-year
intern, third-year intern, and on. Study those figures, talk to your peers. What may be a
different firm, because you don’t want to be nosing around your own firm as much. But
find out what people at your level are making and insist upon it.
This isn’t always true, but men will expect that they get paid more and women will be
happy with whatever you give them. That isn’t always true, but I think women just have to
be a little tougher and a little more assertive all around.
Anna: It goes back to what Diane was saying earlier. You reflect on what we’ve done and
we know we’re not good enough, and we just have to let that go. You know? Because everybody
makes mistakes. We all learn from them and then [we’ve got to] move on and move up.
Katie: Okay. We have time for one more question, and then we have to wrap up our session today.
And that, that the last question is, it’s a doozey. “What is the hardest career choice
you’ve ever [had] to make? And what did you decide?”
Diane: I feel like I’m so early in my career. My hardest career choice would have to be
switching jobs. But again, when you switch jobs, you have the opportunities to ask for
more money, ask for different benefits, and even start over again. If you’re at your previous
office, you were a quiet, reserved person, maybe you can come to this next office and
be like, “Okay, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna get licensed. I’m gonna be a project manager.
And I’m gonna take on all these responsibilities.” I guess it’s easier said than done, but you
can kind of start over. Katie: Yes, you have an opportunity for a
fresh start. Anna: I don’t know. That’s really tough because
I really feel fortunate in my career path and choice and the support group that I have.
And that’s one of the reasons, I guess, I’m just trying to pay it forward and be that
person for other people, because I’ve been very fortunate. Projects that I’ve worked
on and where I am, and I’m really happy like that right now.
Margo: I think for me the hardest career choice was going out on my own. I was scared stiff.
I worked for other people for six years after graduate school and, four years after, I got
licensed. And I talked about it, talked about it until people were sick of hearing me talking
about, “Well, should I start my own firm?” Eventually I jumped, and I just think that
was key. I’ve developed a good enough base that I was able to survive the first year.The
thing is, most of us are in this field not for the pay.
Anna: Because we love it. Margo: Because we really love architecture
and want to contribute to the built environment. You just have to go with the peaks and valleys,
and there are going to be years where you just don’t make much. But if you get to do
multi-family housing development for folks then that’s great. You’ve really done something
and you contributed to the society. Katie: And we know what you’ve decided, because
you’ve managed. Margo: Yeah, I did! And I managed to stay
in business for 30 years of fun. Katie: It’s a story in and of itself. Well,
thank you all for being in here today and for the lively conversation. And thank you
all for joining us. NCARB will be posting a recap video on the blog next week. And thank
you for your questions and for tuning in.

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