Are you kidding me? / by Michelle Linden

So... Robert Stern recently gave an interview, where he stated that he thinks the major reason that women comprise only 20% of the architectural workforce, while they comprise 50% of architectural students is essentially because women feel a desire to have a family which is very difficult while maintaining a career in architecture.
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OK.
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I mean, I guess that is true to some degree. But, I think its a really simplistic view.
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I think there is a myriad of reasons why female architects don't reach the same levels of stature in the field as men... To start, women still don't earn as much as men. And in a field like architecture, where our pay is not at all commiserate with our workload and liability, a woman earning less is going to feel the hardship of underpayment even more. It would be easy to abandon the profession for a better earning one... or at least one with a better work/life balance.
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Whether R Stern thinks so or not, architecture is still very much a boys club. A white boys club to be more specific. The leaders of the profession are more often that not, white men. So, when these leaders are working with younger architects, mentoring those architects, they are much more likely to offer guidance to those architects in whom they see a little of themselves. They are much more likely to be helping out other white male architects, rather than their minority counterparts.
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Not to mention, women still have to deal with all sorts of inequalities that men just don't have to think about at all. How many women architects have been asked to help answer the phones, or get coffee, or clean up, while their male peers merely continue with their daily work? While sometimes these tasks can be considered a contribution to the team, women are constantly faced with tasks like these, wondering if they were asked to help out as part of the team, or simply because they are a woman. Add to that, working with contractors and consultants calling you sweetie... always having to prove that you are just as talented, if not more so. Most men, never have to prove they are equal, its assumed they are unless proven otherwise.
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Is it any wonder that many women don't complete their careers in architecture? And its not just women... the percentage of minority architects is pitiful. And unless dinosaurs like Stern realize they are part of the problem, this isn't going to change.
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Because frankly, we don't all have babies on the brain. Thoughts?
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