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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?

Equity by Design: AtlAIAnta! Convention Recap

by Rosa Sheng

The AIA Convention in Atlanta was a refreshing and unexpected surprise for many with amazing keynote speakers, programs, networking events and opportunities to explore the city. The convention app this year was a great way to get a sense of what was happening elsewhere. The convention theme was IMPACT! and each day, the keynote speakers (featuring Former President Bill Clinton, Welby Atidor, and Julie Dixon) did not disappoint in bringing the message home. In order to advance, we must be seek to change the profession to be more innovative, more diverse in our collaboration, more equitable to represent the populations we serve and become better ambassadors for the value proposition for Architecture.

It was time for many firsts. The profound impact of social media allowed many of our events, such as the first ever Equity by Design Hackathon #EQxDHack15 (WE310) at an AIA Convention to be successful at conveying the message of the equity movement, but also having fun along the way, making new friends and creating connections beyond gender, age, and cultural backgrounds. Our audience in all 3 workshops (WE310, FR117, FR420) where the Equity in Architecture data was presented, consisted of diverse backgrounds and positive participation. There were men and women, new and seasoned, multicultural ethnicities, from all over the nation; the common thread was a desire to see our profession thrive with a commitment to action and the pursuit of equitable practice. All of this is a hopeful indication of the representation we would like to see for the profession in the near future.

Also notable was that many of the people that we had reached out to and met thru social media came together to meet for in person for the first time. It was an interesting conversation about re-inventing the traditional norms of networking (golf outings, fundraising dinners, etc) where many of those in the "social media" architecture and design community that had been conversing for years were meeting in person for the first time.

Yet another first, 2 galleries that recognized equity challenges and women in architecture. They were located near each other and facilitated the Equity discussion at convention. The Equity in Architecture early findings infographics were on display outside of B308 with healthy traffic and positive reception. The AIA Houston WIA Exhibit had a traveling gallery version that also had many visitors and discussion. 

The newly elected AIA National officers show promise not only for representing a diverse Board, but also carrying through with the change that the institute needs to remain relevant and impactful in the future. The officers are Thomas Vonier, President-elect for 2017, Stuart Coppedge, Treasurer. Jennifer Workman, L. Jane Frederick, and Anthony Schirripa will serve as Delegates at Large. Additionally, Don King, Thierry Paret, and Deepika Padaam will join them as elected Board members from the AIA Strategic Council. Robert Ivy mentioned Equity by Design: The Missing 32% Project research study as an inspiration for the AIA 2015 Diversity Survey. The early results of the AIA Diversity survey will be presented at the AIA Women's leadership summit in Seattle on September 18: Celebrating Women Leaders, Promoting Cultural Change. 

 An overwhelming majority voted for Equity in Architecture Resolution 15-1 at AIA National Convention in Atlanta

An overwhelming majority voted for Equity in Architecture Resolution 15-1 at AIA National Convention in Atlanta

Perhaps the most exciting outcome of the convention was the success of advocacy for Resolution 15-1 Equity in Architecture that was co-authored with Julia Donoho, Frank Pitts and myself; co-sponsored by AIASF, AIACC; and supported by the AIA National Board of Directors, Strategic Council, AIA Diversity Council and Big Sibs. The list of supporters goes beyond this base, to all the 4117 AIA delegates who voted in support of the resolution. We are deeply grateful of the solidarity for equitable practice and excited for the work ahead. 

The following Storify link captures the highlights of the 4 days.


Other Sources for AIA National Convention Coverage:

Archispeak Podcasts - 3 special AIA convention episodes. Episode 60 includes a recap of EQxD Happy Hour.

Architect Magazine - Equity by Design: The Missing 32% Project Releases Complete Findings on Women in Architecture

Architect Magazine Video- Promoting Equitable Practice in Architecture

 Architectural Record -  AIA Passes Equity Resolution: Now What?