SHE TALKS: Gender, Equity and the Future of Design
Who designs the world? Girls.
On Wednesday, May 3 at East Side Collective, in partnership with AIA Austin and SheSuite, #bossbabesATX hosted SHE TALKS: Gender, Equity and The Future of Design.
Female-identifying people make up only 32% of working professionals in architecture (and that number is even less in other design-related industries). At this SHE TALKS event, we explored this stat and others during the event's industry- and community-focused panels, each centering on inclusion, representation and the importance of equity in architecture, planning and environmental design. Get the full recap below.
Meet the night's panelists:
Our focus for the evening centered on both gender equity within the architecture industry and equity for the community-at-large in built environments. Panelists shared their thoughts on sexism within the industry (revealing a wide array of experiences—both positive and negative), their individual dedication to their careers and the role of mentorship in their success. Throughout the discussion, panelists also shared their thoughts on the City of Austin's development, gentrification and the role of architects and activists in this conversation. One thing is clear: Development is inevitable, but it must be conscientious. This requires an equal effort from citizens and the City to find common ground, consult each other's expertise and work together to effect policy. Many agreed that changing the way our cities develop starts with education about the built environment (at the K through 12 level) and our vote.
We shared a few valuable resources:
ACE Mentorship program: The ACE Mentor Program of America, Inc. (ACE) helps mentor high school students and inspires them to pursue careers in design and construction. It’s now the construction industry's fastest-growing high school mentoring program, reaching over 8,000 students annually. Our mission is to engage, excite and enlighten high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction through mentoring and to support their continued advancement in the industry. ACE not only engages sponsors and volunteer mentors to expose students to real-world opportunities, it financially supports each student's continued success through scholarships and grants. Since inception, ACE has awarded over $14 million in scholarships to promising participants.
Code Next: CodeNEXT is the City of Austin initiative to rewrite our outdated and complicated Land Development Code. The Land Development Code sets requirements for what, where, and how much can be built in Austin.
AIA (a community partner on this event): AIA Austin is the voice for our region's architecture community. We advocate for our members, the profession, career development, and design excellence. We influence public opinion and policies that shape our built and natural environment. Open Architecture Austin https://www.facebook.com/openarchatx/ We are part of a global network of volunteers united by the desire to bring collaborative design practice to underserved communities. #iopenarchitecture. Contact: Beau Frail, email@example.com
Open Architecture Houston: Design makes it possible for everyone to dream and build. We address two problems: lack of hands-on community experience for young professionals and limited access to design services for marginalized communities. We bring together architects, designers, nonprofit organizations, municipalities and local community groups, enabling underserved communities to take ownership of their collectively created places. When people design and build their own environments, they take ownership of the places they create, sustain them long term, keep them safe, invest in them, and color them with their most precious expressions. Contact: Lauren Murray, firstname.lastname@example.org
She Suite (a community partner on this event): SheSuite is a curated group of female leaders who mentor and nurture each other professionally and personally for the betterment of their community. They center their efforts around one vision: To live in a world where women are valued based on their talents, contribution and character rather than their gender. Contact: Wilson Hack, Wilson.email@example.com
NOMA - National Association of Minority Architects: NOMA, which thrives only when voluntary members contribute their time and resources, has as its mission the building of a strong national organization, strong chapters and strong members for the purpose of minimizing the effect of racism in our profession. Strength in NOMA is built through unity in the cause that created the organization. Our impact is felt when our organization wrestles with the dilemmas that face this nation, particularly as they affect our profession. There is strength in numbers. By increasing the number of people in this organization, we add strength to the voice with which we can speak against apathy, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance; against abuse of the natural environment; and for the un-empowered, the marginalized and the disenfranchised.
SXSW Eco + Social Good: SXSW Eco creates a space for business leaders, investors, innovators and designers to drive economic, environmental and social change.
Eastside Collective (our space and host for this event): East Side Collective is a coworking studio space in Austin, TX shared by designers, builders, developers, engineers, and artists. Located in a former Pepsi bottling warehouse, cofounders Jared Haas, Tim Derrington, and Javier Martin converted 1500 sf of space into curated offices for their small businesses and other like-minded creative professionals. Together, these entities help lead Austin into thoughtful, innovative design while offering an authentic piece of Austin's creative culture.
Austin’s Atlas: Austin's Atlas is a collaborative art project interested in discovering, capturing, and expanding Austin's sense of place.
Austin Community Design & Development Center: Our mission is to improve the quality of life for all by providing sustainable design, planning and development services to low- and moderate- income individuals, families and neighborhoods.