Women working in a male-dominated industry

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Women working in a male-dominated industry

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    Trace One

    @Heather, you are insane..I made the comment with qualifications, every single time..I called it a cliche, I said I was looking for new paradigms, I said it was personal experience, (I thought it was obvious that I felt the stereotype of the passive woman needed to be turned on it’s head.)


    Stop stabbing me in the back, and try to read an entire paragraph..Sometimes it takes more than 42 characters to complete a thought! How do you m anage to get through an entire set of specifications?




    You should come to Slovenia, here is the situation almost the opposite. The profession is feminized in our country, as my professor said. For example in my class there were only 3 men and 27 women. There are also more women as faculty staff. It wasn’t always so in the old days there were more men, however the situation radically changed and in 10 years, or let’s say 5 years, we will have meetings where a middle aged white male is exctinct (: 


    Nothing wrong with that though, I only wanted to show the situation in my country. If you ask me, there should be an equillibrium in every occupation. Too much men isn’t good, and too much women isn’t better at all. But the times are changing in Slovenia too, last year there were 8 men against 22 women, so the ratio is changing a bit again.



    Jon Quackenbush

    Well, lets look at the bright side here… if you are a woman working in a male dominated profession such as landscape architecture, you could take solace in the fact that you still have a job in this economy. ツ

    Anyway, If you have talent, it will be recognized if you continue to work hard– male or female.  That is my belief.  I could be naive, but that is the form of naivety that if we all had, it would actually mean things are equitable.

    Claudia Chalfa

    Oh, I totally agree!  I was actually not referring to landscape architecture, but other jobs I have had over the years, in environmental health enforcement.  I did soil testing, air monitoring for asbestos removal, that sort of work, and I had to be kind of tough in that role.  Now as a planner I have to be that way a bit, too…but I don’t think of either planning or landscape architecture as being particularly male-dominated.  Most planners and landscape architects I know are not that way.


    I agree with you about hard work being the important thing.

    Claudia Chalfa

    Interesting…and you are right, equilibrium is the goal.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    You got me thinking and trying to genderize the places that I have worked at, the boards that I present to, the attornies and consultants that I often work with … The best news is that I actually did have to think about it, hopefully because it is just such a non-issue. But when I do think about it, males are the majority in numbers, but of those individuals know to have a lot of clout it is pretty much 50/50 in my circles.


    Three of the six most desirable land development attorneys that I would rate are women. The two strongest presences in environmental consulting for development at the local level in my area are women. One larger male owned land planning firms has a majority of women both as CEs and staff in general. Most others are mixed. There seems to be either a balance or women as a majority in the town planning positions and in the top spots.


    I think there are individuals that carry baggage, but at least in my area, we are way past that as a society and institutionally for the most part.


    PS. If there was a “like” button, I would have hit it for both your response to this thread above and Leslies shortly before that. Both are patient, strategic, practical, and not getting walked on.

    Trace One



    article in todays Huff. Post re: women architects..Not totally relevant to us LA’s….

    Tanya Olson

    I think it absolutely is relevant. And what the dean of Harvard said is true of many women – since we are the only sex of our species able to procreate, we reach a point where we have to make a decision…..Catherine Brown apparently wrote on making the choice not to have children in favor of her career, reflecting the choice of many of her contemporaries, though I haven’t been able to find her writings.


    That said – the two major building projects in my town – a new elementary school and new county courthouse – were BOTH designed by women (who each happen to have small children) and they both have very good working relationships with the construction project managers, which I think sets the tone for the rest of the crew.


    My bone to pick is this – where is this topic in ASLA conferences? Where is it on their website?

    Women (especially with children) tend to have small sole proprietorships (for the flexibility) and no big firm paying their ASLA memberships, I suspect making up the unseen unheard group of women not accounted for in the difference between graduation numbers and women in the profession. If I was an ASLA office aware of this missing group, I would be pounding the pavement trying to recruit them – these are the people that link our communities with landscape architecture – they are the ones volunteering in parks and schools and on city committees; working with clients who don’t have million dollar residences, but who still want good design.


    We’re always musing on how to educate the public on what landscape architecture is – well these are the people who are putting it in terms that Joe down the street can relate to. They’re educating one person at a time, a whole school of children at one time, the entire staff of a city until suddenly the next project that comes up simply can’t be done without a landscape architect. And that is completely off the radar, unaccounted for….???

    Andrew Garulay, RLA



    I think there was either a “women in landscape architecture” class in my U (Idaho) or there was a separate organization dedicated to it.  … even in Idaho, the department chair was a women in the early 90’s. I remember that the title “women in landscape architecture” was very prevalent somewhere while I was in school. ..it may have been ASLA.

    Tanya Olson

    Yeah – I’ve seen that link. Last time I checked the last activity on it was in 2008 or 2007. I even emailed the moderator of the group and got no response…..oh – plus you have to be an ASLA member to be part of the group….see my comments above.

    Good for your school, were there any other women on the faculty? We did have a woman chair, tenured, and one woman faculty member, not tenured and who could not get tenure, and one adjunct, also not tenured. The rest, male, all tenured.

    BZ Girl

    I agree with Tanya. I think it is incredibly relevant, and very timely to this discussion! I enjoyed reading all the response comments. Sounds like a lot of my thoughts are being echoed by women architects.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    She actually stepped down as I was re-enrolling (I was in her sophomore class 12 years before).There were only four full time faculty (all men) in the department at the time, but there were two women adjunct professors. There is now one full time professor and one assistant professor who happen to be female – all of the male faculty were there in 1994  .. all the people who were not are women, now that I look at it.


    My class in ’97 was an even split of students, if I recall …. maybe one more man than woman (7-6) .   

    Barbara Peterson

    I’m a registered l.a. with about 18 years experience (residential, commercial, and public projects including construction administration)…and a female.  Here’s what I’ve found not only though my work but by talking with other female l.a. friends.  Sometime clients, architects, engineers, contractors, and other l.a.’s – both male and female – don’t listen to you as much as you’d like or think that they should especially when when you are first starting out. 

    Couple pieces of advice:

    1. Keep expressing your concerns and asking questions especially if you feel that what is happening could negatively impact the project and therefore the client. 
    2. Ask your principal or office mentor what the best way to handle a project “problem” is if you feel that you just can’t get your point across…you may find out that the “problem” is not such a “big deal” and that you don’t need to worry about it or they may give you advice on how better to handle it.
    3. Do not talk to your principal about hurt feelings because ‘no one’ listens to you because you are female.  Really, they don’t want to hear it.
    4. Do not read between the lines or read to much into things (that is still a hard one for me…I’m way toooooo good at reading between the lines…).  That said, those “middle-aged men” may not be blowing you off: they may just be used to dealing with an issue a certain way and just don’t want to ‘experiement’ with something new. 
    5. Be willing to accept that you will not always get your way (right or wrong).  As you gain experience, you will also gain more credibility.  Also, if you are suggesting something “new”, it may take you several projects to get what you know is better implemented…don’t give up.
    6. Learn as much as you can.  If you have an specific interest, learn all you can and don’t be afraid to stand up for what you know even if one or more ‘whoevers’ disagree with you….you may not “win” the discussion right away but it may happen over time.
    7. Put your concern in writing (ie send an e-mail to the architect or whoever after the meeting if it is not fully addressed during the meeting or does not show up in the meeting minutes).  That way the concern is in writing – no one can they that they don’t ‘remember it’ – and your company is covered should your concern become a ‘real’ problem in the future.
    8. Stop worrying about it.  Thinking that ‘no one is listening because you are a female’ will only limit you in your own mind and make you defensive (a negative trait that others can pick up on).  Let me give you an example: my sister who is in the military had to coordinate troop movement with military folks from other countries.  At one point, she was coordinating troops though various European and Middle Eastern countries – more strongly male-centric than the US military. I was curious and asked her if she had experienced any problems because she was a female officer.  Her reply was basically: “I don’t know, and I don’t care. I’m there to do a job and get it done right; if a guy has a problem taking orders from me because I’m a female, then it’s his problem not mine.  The job still had to be completed correctly and he better not screw up.”  She is now a Lt Col. with only one bad review in her career that spans over 20 years… from…another female…
    9. Don’t complain to your female friends about how the guys in the business don’t listen to women: they will generally agree with you…this isn’t good for your attitude.    😉 

    That all said, have I had male contactors, architects, etc. ‘blow me off’ when I’ve said something?  Sure, but I’m sure that that also happens to guys. Do I get annoyed? Sometimes.  Do I keep my mouth shut during meeting when I see a problem or have an idea? Nope.  Do I always “get my way”? Nope…not even after 18 years. 

    Stick with it and you will see results.  Don’t let it get to you.  Talk to a mentor who can help you through when it is really frustrating.

    enrico gaggia

    yes! It’s true


    here a tribute to top 10 Woman Architect



    BZ Girl

    Thanks Barbara! This is great advice. I appreciate your thoughts!

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