Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Women in Architecture: Part 2

Architect Barbie
Source: Google Images
"I didn't realize that was happening to you."

That's the response I got from one of my co-workers when I told him about the sexism I've been dealing with when interacting with clients and now some engineers since I've been in the field of Architecture.  I don't discuss it with many, but it's starting to affect me more since it's becoming obvious on projects.  Now it has trickled down to Project L.  My firm's scope for Project L is broken into two buildings on a Industrial site.  One is drawn by me, while the other was drawn by the Project Manager.  We coordinate our projects between a team of 3 engineering firms and the city (the project is that big).  Even though he is the Project manager, we both have to attend the meetings because we are responsible for each building.  We've had multiple projects with 3 of the engineering companies, and we have interacted with a majority of their Project Managers; so I know them very well. 

After yesterday's meeting that we had to prepare for a presentation for next week, I noticed my name wasn't on the agenda to attend.  Nor was I sent any emails.  That's when I asked my co-worker: "what's the purpose of me going to the meetings when they only refer to you?  Even when they are asking questions about my building?  Yes they greet me, but that's it."  He couldn't understand till I brought his attention to this:

-"Is this your Assistant?" I've been to all the meetings and introduced myself as the Architectural Designer of one of the buildings.  My co-worker did correct him.
-"Co-worker's name" will see about "this task" for the 3D model.  I stated in the meetings that I'm the one who produces the models.  When my co-worker didn't understand the technical terms, he asked me to go into deal about it.  Instead of saying "Firm's Name" will see about task, he listed the Project manager's name.
-I'm never copied in group emails.  My co-worker has to forward each email to me.
-For Outlook Calendar Meetings, they have me listed as "optional" attendee.  Before this, my co-worker had to add me to the meeting.

With School S and School B, I've experienced:
-"Are you the Architect Assistant?" Here we go again.
-"Are you the power point presentation girl?" No, I'm the WOMAN who created this awesome model you see in front of you :-).
-Engineers not responding to my email and only respond to the project manager, even after I'm introduced to them in meetings. Boooo.

Sorry for the rant, but as a woman in the field of Architecture, we have to push harder to make our talents known.  That's why I love to post about growing in the field and learning new things everyday.  I love that I work at a firm that looks past gender, but it's always a tough reminder when I step into a meeting.  I also love that my boss pushes me to grow in the field so I'm not know as just a drafter.  He wants me to know how to manage too so I can be a well-rounded Architect.

As of last Friday, my boss told me that he wants me to manage my first small project.  I will still be able to draft, but the majority is management.  Tomorrow, we have a tour of School M and there he will introduce me as the direct contact for the project.  How exciting. 

Let see how that adventure goes!

My co-worker went to another meeting for Project L.  I decided to stay in the office since it was about the presentation that I'm not a part of.  He just got back and told me that everyone wondered where I was and am I his Secretary because I'm so quiet and I take notes.  When he told me this, my heart got heavy.  Then he told me he defended my honor:
"She's an Architectural Designer on the project.  She's just as important as I am.  Chela's not as quiet as you think and she can handle a presentation on her own.  Also, all Architects take notes."
It's good to know that co-workers will stand up for you!

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