Celebrating female architects on International Women’s Day

Do you find it challenging being a female working in the architecture industry?

I’m fortunate to be a part of a practice that respects everyone. We have females in leadership positions and everyone’s contributions are equally valued. Ours is an empowering studio for women but I’m aware that’s not always the case elsewhere. – Anne Khor, Senior Architectural Graduate.

I don’t perceive being a female architect as a challenge. It’s rewarding. I’ve worked in a number of practices and have always enjoyed bringing a counter-balance to what can be quite a masculine approach to architecture. Sometimes, as a woman, I think I contribute a little more elegance and softness to design. I think males and females bring a different perspective but neither is necessarily right nor wrong! – Angela Gibson, Senior Architect.

Whilst there are a lot of male architects in this profession, we are starting to see more females coming through. Admittedly, the construction industry is dominated by males. It can initially feel a bit intimidating when you first go on site but, in my experience, the construction workers have made me feel very welcome. – Georgia Sanson, Senior Architectural Graduate.

There are plenty of challenges in this industry — we all face them regardless of gender. I always go home with a smile on my face when I’ve worked through a creative challenge and figured out a way to resolve it — that’s incredibly rewarding. I love collaborating and brainstorming. The problem-solving process is the part of my work I most enjoy. – Zoe D’Ath, Architectural Graduate.

Who is one female that’s significantly influenced your career?

Before moving to New Zealand, I was raised by my grandmother in Malaysia. She worked extremely hard to provide for her family. She is my biggest supporter. Her best advice? “You can’t control people but you can control yourself and how you react to a situation.” Someday I hope to have her strength and composure. – Joelle Lim, Senor Architectural Graduate.

Reading books and listening to podcasts by American author and social researcher Brene Brown has had a significant impact on my work in people management. What resonates with me is the belief that truly understanding people — who they are, where they come from and what drives them — better equips us to enable them to feel safe in the workplace. – Catherine Solari, Director of People, Culture and Operations. 

My mother was my greatest supporter. Somehow, despite her busy life, she always seemed ‘present’. She gracefully balanced so many demands on her time. I aspire to strike that work/life balance equally well. – Cushla Thurston, Associate Director.

What advice do you have for women considering a career in architecture?

If you have a passion for creativity and science, this is a great profession where you can explore both of those interests.  Don’t let the perception that it’s a male-dominated industry deter you. In my experience, there’s plenty of inspiring women working in architecture and design — and many more to come. – Sarah Pells, Architectural Graduate.

Keep track of what is happening in the industry. It’s dynamic and always evolving. You’ll need to be prepared to work hard and put in long hours but in the long-term it’s a very rewarding career. – Elaine Whelan, Programme Coordinator. 

Try and silence any little voice in your head that may plant a seed of doubt about your own capabilities. Make sure your voice is heard. Sometimes people won’t realise it but they may inadvertently speak over you. Stand straight and talk firmly. If you project your voice, you’re less likely to be interrupted. Be persistent but polite. – Anka Kuepper, Senior Architectural Graduate. 

If you’re passionate about creating great places for people to live, work and play — go for it! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the fruits of your imagination being built into something real. It’s hard work but really rewarding. – Catherine Solari, Director of People, Culture and Operations.

ArchitectureNow and Architecture NZ work with a range of partners in the A&D sector to create appropriate content for the site. This article has been supported by Solari Architects.

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