I debated for a while whether or not to post about the article "Why Architects need Feminism" on Design Observer, as I don't usually care for analyzing articles nor to put definitive thoughts on the internet. However, it seems that it has stuck with me and I want to put my thoughts about it into writing.
I have always talked to my mom about this as she worked in the corporate world in a high-level position in the 80s and 90s. While she always provided amazing advice and support, I also felt that I was the only creative professional experiencing a similar environment ("corporate"). My friends were also working to move forward in their careers in design as well, but they never related this back to the perspective of being a woman. I've always thought my experience hinges on my dual experience of being a woman and it's something that I've tried to mesh cohesively with varying results. So I think, for me, this article really opened my eyes to the fact that other women are experiencing similar challenges to make it in a "man's world."
The article initially paints the responsibility on educators to give their students "fair warning of the rough conditions that lie ahead" yet ultimately gives responsibility of this unique education to local organizations that offer mentoring and coaching. That is a reasonable assessment as I have been the only woman in a male-centric office and have learned only through relationships with entrepreneurial women to come to terms with being the sole woman. It was their encouragement and support that provided a foundation for my development. Now, I am very comfortable with the role and take a certain pride that I can be successful in this environment.
Yet when new young people (especially young women) join the team, I notice the differences all over again. And I get a crazy fierce "mama bird" desire and put a protective wing over them and guide them to achieve what they want to achieve. Most often, these young people are my interns and while I give them intern-ly responsibilities, I also strive to give them work that they will enjoy more or give them experience and exposure to other aspects of the design work and get them involved with all aspects of a project. I don't feel that this philosophy is particularly unique, yet in conversations with my co-workers this was a position that they had not heard before. Now, it is a noticeable ideology within the office to work in this manner.
So back to the article, I feel that change in the field will really come from internal change through "feminist" principles. As Stratigakos writes: "By linking individuals to systems, feminism allows us to perceive structural limitations and to envision dissolving barriers. And feminism's attention to practice — and not just to practitioners — fosters new ways of understanding and experimenting with process." And even though as a twenty-something I would prefer not to associate with the "F-word" due to negative connotations, I feel that her definition is correct. And with more men and women recognizing this, the better chance work environments have to become equal for both genders.