When asked about the #MeToo movement, Meghana Joshi, Assoc. AIA, could instantly draw up several negative experiences about being, as she puts it, the only woman at a table of men. “All of the site visits,” she recalls, “where the contractors would inappropriately address me as ‘the beautiful architect’ instead of learning my name, all my friends who poured out stories of being demeaned by their bosses…and above all, the constant doubt that weighs heavily on my shoulder every day. Doubt that my work and efforts would be seen on the same level as my male counterpart, doubt that this endless cycle of treating women differently than men would ever stop.”
Joshi is far from alone. “My experience centers largely around unconscious bias, which often manifests by way of insensitive comments, actions, or attitudes,” says Zena Howard, FAIA, managing director and principal of Perkins+Will. “In this male-dominated profession, women at all levels may experience various types of unwelcome behaviors.”
Join or start a Women in Architecture committee: In response to what she had experienced in the industry, Joshi started the Women in Architecture committee for AIA Orange County two years ago. “The sole purpose of the committee,” she says, “is to provide a safe space for women and minorities to work together and bring positive change, providing support and mentorship crucial to surviving in the profession. In addition to social and networking opportunities, we have taken our committee a step ahead by organizing events that showcase everyday role model women and mentors.”
AIA Orange County, for example, recently hosted Laura Oatman, AIA, an architect running in Orange County for the US House of Representatives who shared stories of her frustrations in her profession.
“Equity cannot be achieved overnight,” Joshi says. “But when we speak up together as a united voice and amplify [each other], change is inevitable. The fight for rights is beyond annual marches. It is in every project on the boards and in construction, educating the clients, consultants, and contractors to respect a woman for her talent, and look beyond the gender.”
As published on AIA National’s website: https://www.aia.org/articles/184366-meeting-the-metoo-moment?utm_source=RealMagnet&utm_medium=email&utm_term=38381504–cf6e3318-5a29-4d6e-9578-862ca10c97b8&utm_content=AIA%20Architect–AIA%20Architect%20Email%20%2D%203%2F23%2F18&utm_campaign=Meeting%20the%20%23MeToo%20moment