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April 2016

"Diversity in Architecture"
Career advancement and diversity within the A/E professions is our theme this month, specifically women practicing architecture. Guest author Amy Slattery, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Founder, President of Odimo, shares research, cultural biases and offers practical solutions for the challenges women face during their professional career. Amy is a registered architect in multiple jurisdictions with 15 years experience. She was recognized by Engineering-News Record as a Midwest Top 20 under 40 in 2012 and an American Institute of Architects National Young Architects Award recipient in 2011.

It's been an eventful 2016. In March the AIA released the Diversity of Architecture Report, the result of a survey taken in January 2015. The report presented several key takeaways to be implemented in coming years by the AIA's Equity in Architecture Commission. Women remain underrepresented in the profession; while we've achieved parity for many years at the university level, women still leave the profession in larger numbers than men.

"Top three reasons noted for underrepresentation of women in the profession (according to those that reported women were underrepresented) were:
  • Concern about work-life balance
  • Long work hours that makes starting a family difficult and thereby encourage some women to leave the field.
  • Lack of flexibility to work remotely, job share, or work flexible hours
This is one of the most important areas where architects, industry leaders, and membership associations could lead an effort to change the professional culture. Not only would it address one of the primary concerns of women in the industry, but also it would benefit the field as a whole."
- AIA Diversity in the Profession of Architecture Report.

While balance is an often-stated issue, a recent New York Times article presented the variety of on-going cultural issues that women still must contend with, from the construction site to the board room. This article about an informal online questionnaire was inspired by the passing of Zaha Hadid, which although devastating, provided another opportunity for further visibility of the conversation around women in architecture.

I remain optimistic, and there is good news out there. The 2015 NCARB By the Numbers report stated "the proportion of women practitioners is set to increase" given the recent increase in women completing the ARE. "Women accounted for 35 percent of ARE completions in 2014 - the second highest percentage on record." Now, we just have to keep those young female architects moving forward in their careers.

A primary strategy for retention is connection. Locally in Kansas City, the AIAKC Women in Design Committee recently celebrated 10 years of impacting women in architecture and the design professions. The organization continues to evolve with programming, mentoring and celebrating women leading in the community. This spring WIDKC accomplished a significant goal of fully endowing the annual scholarship for women in design through the Kansas City Architectural Foundation.

We also must remember that architecture plays one role (ideally a leading role) in the larger context of the built environment. Connecting outside the profession with all of those who impact the design and construction industry can perhaps be the best way to move these issues forward. My investment in building relationships through Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW Network) has provided opportunities to build a network of clients and collaborators while gaining personal insight and professional career development.

Women I have connected with locally, nationally and across the A/E industry were the inspiration for the recent step I've taken in establishing my design practice. After 15 years in the profession, I felt it was time to lead with my own ideas about design and service to our clients and communities...and that the Kansas City market could use another woman business owner. Nobody ever said it better than Gandhi - "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Whether you are a female or male A/E professional, your career growth will include acquiring, maintaining and managing credentials. We have learned how one determined young professional has acquired multiple credentials, including licensure in more than one jurisdiction, several professional affiliation memberships, and local, state and national recognition that is respected across disciplines. Creating more time to concentrate on your professional practice career path will be achieved with ease by securing a successful credentials management services provider. Visit for details.

Facts, Fun, Quizzes and Quotes

"Diversity: the art of thinking independently together."

Quote By: Malcolm Forbes


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