The Personal in the Profession needs more work!
by Wendy S. Bertrand
The term work/life balance is often used to remind long-hours workers that there is more to life than work. Probably taken from the work hard/play hard phrase used by those who separate the personal from the professional and in those work cultures who enjoy it when employees work beyond the hours they are paid for and consider it devotion. Many architectural offices are known for this kind of culture and the situation has been brought forward often in describing the profession by both men and women.
But that was not the thinking in the early 1970s when the Organization of Women Architects formed in the San Fransico Bay Area during a wave of feminism. It became clear to many of us then that although we were professionally educated, skilled, and capable, being a female seemed to negatively impact our ambitions for working in the field of architecture and other design fields. It was the gender of our person that was being discriminated against not our professionalism. We realized that were are one person, female and worker, as an architect the whole person counted, meaning our values, ideas, needs, concerns, and social context may have been hidden influences on our person, that may or may not be gender-linked but were being felt as systemically frustrating.
How this played out in the early years of OWA is summarized in OWA architect Jean Nilsson’s 40th Anniversary History pamphlet of 2013. “From its inception, OWA has supported the whole person, not only her career in architectureâ€¦.monthly meetings discussed flexible work schedules, job-sharing, hiring, and childcare.” Also, topics such as money management, health issues, affirmative action laws, and public speaking were in the mix. We shared our experiences, our salaries and our knowledge of history, like what earlier women architects had designed by organizing tours, and paid attention to what was going on in other male-dominated professions like law, medicine, and accounting.
Because of the difficulty getting a job in architecture and thriving in the profession, some called OWA a support group while others were trying to be change agents for more equity and awareness of what understanding the whole person was about in feminist terms.
There seems to be an enduring questioning of what part of a female practicing architecture is definable, however, there is no question that women in architecture earn less and have many hurdles to jump because of their gender. Men can’t decide if we design differently or not but that should not matter. We bring to the table what we bring and half the population is female. This is a big topic that is continually ignored or deflected by many. Women architects and design professionals in an organization like OWA+DP, independent of the AIA, could be talking about not only our working lives, but what we can do to improve the built world by including social issues such as feminism into design discussions, decisions, and actions. Social issues of equity and gendered reality are two of the personal elements of architecture that have been overshadowed in both architectural education and practice for too long.
UPCOMING EVENT: OWADP Holiday Party 2019!
East Bay, TBD
Join us for the OWADP 2019 Holiday Celebration on December 7th!
The party is free but members are invited to RSVP by the end of the day Friday, December 6th. Please RSVP here.
Tickets will be required for entry. Each member can bring only one guest.
We will send the address to the only members who RSVP through the Eventbrite link.
Looking forward to seeing you on December 7th!
the 2019 Steering Committee:
Betty Woo, Leslie Golden, Maryam Moayery Nia, Carolyne Orazi, Allison Kinst, Bridget Basham and Claire Hansen
PAST EVENT: Annual Business Meeting
The Steering Committee would like to thank all the members who attended this year's business meeting on Tuesday, October 22nd. The major topics of this year's meeting were approving next year's budget, electing new Steering Committee members and reports from each Steering Committee member regarding their work for the organization this year.
We would love to thank the following members who will be ending their Steering Committee terms this year. We are grateful for all the hard work they have put into the organization: Bridget Basham, Maryam Moayery Nia, and iCarolyne Orazi. Four of our current SC members will continue next year: Leslie Golden, Betty Woo, Allison Kinst and Claire Hansen.
We had 3 members who have volunteered to serve on the steering committee for the next two years. We are excited to welcome new members to the Steering Committee: Dena Kennett, Gennifer Munoz, and Jiang Du.
Please read their statements below to learn a little bit more about them.
New Steering Committee Statements
I am a landscape architect for the National Park Service at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I have a broad landscape architecture and urban design background, spanning from private sector project director to oversight of national network of practitioners and experts for the American
Society of Landscape Architects, to public stewardship of some of the country’s most democratic spaces. Having the opportunity to work in the private sector, professional organizations, and public sector has allowed me to experience all aspects of the field - from practitioner to advocate designer to the director and generalist to specialist. It has also allowed me to build a strong professional network, locally and nationally.
I have always enjoyed getting involved in leadership roles- both in the office and beyond. My experience as chapter president for the AS Potomac Chapter is most aligned with servicing on the OWA+DP Steering Committee. I lead the ASLA Potomac Chapter through a critical transition. There had been a small, but dedicated group of volunteers running the chapter operations for years and they were burnt out. Delivery of events and procedures was inconsistent and the chapter was losing members. My goal was to take this as an opportunity to establish new foundations and frameworks to enable the chapter to be both financially and organizational sustainable and to focus resources to deliver meaningful, high-quality experiences and results. Today, I am proud to see that chapter is
thriving. Membership is up, and more importantly, there are more active and engaged members at the emerging, mid-career, and leadership levels. I look forward to sharing my experiences and skills to support OWA +DP. As a newcomer to the Bay Area, I feel very fortunate to have connected with this wonderful and diverse organization. It is important that women support other women and have a safe place to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that we face, both professionally and personally, as we navigate through our careers.
Gennifer Munoz is an architect in Sacramento, CA. She opened her practice in January of 2018, and her firm specializes in housing projects including single-family and mixed-use apartment buildings. Gen grew up in a navy family, living in Florida, Virginia, Maine, and Japan. She attended the University of Virginia for her bachelor’s degree and moved across the country to receive her Masters from UC Berkeley. Gen is an architect and a teacher, and she is very active in the Sacramento AIA and design community advocating for women in architecture and business. She recently co-founded the AIA Central Valley’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion committee and hopes to serve on the board for the next two years. Gen lives and works in a 100-year-old bungalow in Oak Park with her fiancÃ© and a rambunctious German shepherd.
After attending the OWA retreat this year I was absolutely enamored with the amazing camaraderie amongst this group of women and was honored to find I had been nominated to the steering committee. I heard so many wonderful stories of successful careers over the weekend and was greeted
by warmth and support from the community. It was truly a breath of fresh air! The women that started OWA 46 years ago have created an amazing legacy and generously welcome new members with open arms. I hope to be a part of preserving and carrying on the legacy of support and good-will I felt at the OWA retreat weekend. With the 50th celebration coming up, I think I can also bring my party planning skills and enthusiasm to the table along with some travel ideas!
Jiane Du, AIA has joined RATCLIFF, a recognized leader in Bay Area architecture since 1906. An architect with 25+ years of experience, Du brings proven management and technical skills to her role as a Senior Associate/Project Manager. She will collaborate with academic and civic clients to artfully integrate physical, functional and cultural elements to the built environment. In addition to practicing architecture, she enjoys teaching and has lectured at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University, California College of Arts, and UC Berkeley.
Donation to Hamilton Family!
Similar to previous holiday seasons, OWA will support Hamilton Family Center. Established in 1985, Hamilton Families is San Francisco's leading service provider to homeless families, with carefully designed programs to prevent homelessness, provide shelter and stability, return families to permanent housing and support the well-being of children experiencing homelessness.
This year, we are honored to have been matched with two families! Please click on Wishlist and fill it before the holiday party for any gift you would like to purchase and bring the gift to the party.
If you have any problem opening the link please contact Maryam Moayery Nia.
The most important thing is please label your gift with the number and the name of the person requesting it.
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