Construction Today - November 2017 - 20
increases of women joining
the ranks of architects presages
more appearances on jobsites.
What construction managers need to know about working with women architects. BY AMY HOOD
omen architects understand
the challenges associated
with their profession, but
what makes it worse are the
biases they encounter from a male-dominated discipline. While times are changing,
women in architecture and construction
have had to overcome reservations that their
gender might in some way limit their knowledge, competence, expertise and creativity.
The challenges women in the industry
face are not limited to the politics of the
architectural office environment. They
extend to construction sites as well. Here,
their trials become even more complicated.
The primary issue is not necessarily overt
and unacceptable comments by just a few
workers. Those occur less frequently as the
industry learns to accept increasing numbers of women in a previously male-dominated world. The bigger problem involves
CONSTRUCTION-TODAY.COM NOVEMBER 2017
a patronizing attitude and mindset from
executives who mean well, but mistakenly
feel that gender must be a factor in how
they respond when the expertise they seek
is rendered by a female representative.
Professionalism v. Gender
A New York Times article on this very subject
sums up the quandary facing women
architects. Its title: "I Am Not the Decorator."
The Oct. 2016 piece surveyed several female
architects about the challenges they face,
including those on construction jobsites.
Among the responses were:
* "Every new jobsite means a contractor
who will assume I am the assistant,
decorator or intern."
* "Many subcontractors seem very surprised when I give them solutions."
* "Every single day I have to remind
someone that I am, in fact, an architect."
These experiences are not uncommon.
Despite having the same educational credentials and proven-track record of working
with clients as their male counterparts,
some women find a pink hardhat waiting
for them when they arrive at the job site
(I happened to have been one of them). In
addition, women with professional certifications have been called "baby" or "sweetie" by
executives who should know better. Their
comments and actions are not necessarily
mean spirited, but they are patronizing -
the ultimate denigration of the architect's
professionalism and expertise. They occur
because some executives or managers think
they should emphasize the obvious: the
architect happens to be a woman.
Construction management requires an
environment of professionalism on every
jobsite and that environment includes the licensed architect. That means an individual's