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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    Cara McConnell

    Forget about it, BZ Girl!! Women shouldn’t be working in the A&E industry anyway. Leave it for the men’s club only. Females be regulated to only be employed as nurses, doctors, social workers, secretary, teachers or just stay home to cook, clean and care for the kids.

    Oops…I forgot to add Librarians and Dancers on the women’s only occupation list. Anything else I missed? Time for bed, just got home from work and it’s 3am!

    Cara McConnell

    Craig, you are african-american as much as Andrew is married…NOT!! Both of you can come up with better excuses!


    Yep! Like a lot of (or most) African Americans, a mix of West African, European and Indigenous people. I like to call myself black most of the time. I like it and it’s just easier for me.


    So what’s your point? Am I not writing black enough for you? Or is it the fact that I’m an RLA? Why is my color an issue with you anyway?

    Jay Smith

    Excellent post Barbara.  The most constructive post on this thread by far. And I think it’s advice that everyone in the profession can heed, whether you’re female, male, gay, straight, black, white, extrovert, introvert, tall, short, southern, northern, rich, poor, etc.   Another poster on here made the point that none of us are truly ‘pure’.  That’s so very true, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side (I never got one of those easy-passes that are supposedly handed out to all the white males upon graduation).  The majority of us face great challenges in life, especially in this profession.  I think a better title for this thread would have been “How can Landscape Architects starting out be taken more seriously and be successful” or something to that effect. 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Married filing jointly today for the twentieth time, actually. I’m not sure what I need an excuse for. I am pretty open to chiming in with my honest opinions even on controvercial subjects such as this one. I said that I am a white male without a last name that indicates religion or cultural origin and I’m married. I’m your stereotype indiscriminated statistic in the work place. … I would think that being married makes me one more level of not knowing what it’s like to be discriminated against rather than an excuse to have better knowledge on the subject.


    I know what it is like to not be heard in meetings, not get all of the advancements that I believe I deserved, not get raises when I think I should have,…. but I do not know what it is like to be discriminated against. I always have to wonder if I had the exact same experience yet I was a woman, a person of color, gay, known to have a different religion, or single (as some seem to think they are discriminated for) would I believe that this was the reason? I have to believe that I would make that conclusion simply because every time it happens I search for the possible reason and when I find nothing, as I have, where would I go? I’d have one more place to find a reason and there would be nothing to force me to conclude that it was not discrimination.


    That is why I said that the biggest advantage generic white dudes have is that when we are not burdened with wondering if we are discriminated against, so we have no choice but to be patient, re-focus, and find another way to advance. There are no other options for us and without blatant documented evidence of discrimination, which we all know is almost always subtle and refutable, there aren’t really any options for those who are discriminated in such a way either. The difference is that some people will dwell on it for a long time and let it dominate them. When that happens the bigots win. That is all that I am trying to say. When it is not subtle and there is strong evidence, hell yes, go after them with all that you have! When there is not, move on and do what you’d do if you did not think discrimination was the problem because that is what the white boys are doing around you as you stress.


    I don’t see how this makes me sexist, racist, or any kind of bigot at all. All that I have said is essentially the same thing that Leslie said “know when to show them, know when to hold them, no when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run”. 


    And we all have a responsibility, and I think that our culture has matured to the point where it is an automatic response, to straighten anyone out who is giving off a vibe of these tendencies no matter how subtle. That “straightening out” can be done in subtle ways as well – I think Claudia and Craig both mentioned examples of doing this.


    The world is not perfect and we do have work to do, but labeling people bigots just because they recommend a course of action that differs from yours kind of makes you a bigot. Calling out Craig as not being black when he states that he is because he has a different approach than you might have is pretty sick. Proclaiming that I’m not married, aside from being irrelevant, is untrue.  Telling me that I’m a plantation master is pretty sick, too. How is the rhetoric helping the situation?


    I’m not a sexist, racist, homophobe, or religious extremist and really think that when you label people who are not as such, you lessen the importance of stopping those who are.



    Jessie He Hong

    I’m wondering more and more female come to be landscape architects or landscape architecture students these years. but personally, i m really worry about if this gonna happen after I graduate and work in a firm.

    Cara McConnell

    Originally I never brought up any race issue! The “bike thief” tv segment was a prime example of what our society is thinking. What are you boys talking about? You two landscape boys (Craig and Andrew) are way off base. Get back to your designs or open up a pizza parlor together. Craig and Andy’s Pizza has a nice ring to it.


    I have to give credit where credit is due; the pizza snap was too funny.


    But, once again what’s your point? If you could put the wit and the brashness together with a real argument you would probably be the perfect woman.


    I think I’m still becoming a big fan of yours even though you don’t make a damn bit of sense.  

    Jeff D

    From where I stand, Strike One (“I’m young”) is working in your favor.  I’ve found the opposite to be true, and on more than one occasion, I’ve been told, “Actually, we’re looking for someone with less experience.”  I mean – how thinly veiled is that?  Look through the ASLA Job Finder and count how few firms want anyone with more than 3 years of experience.

    Just the fact that you’re working in this economy puts you light years ahead of the thousands of us “middle-aged men” who have been unemployed for years as LAs.  We won’t be hired back until the workload becomes sufficient that the principals finally feel the need to delegate responsibility.  Most small firms I know are comprised of nothing but the owner and a CAD Drafter.  In the office where I last worked, the workforce went from 32 in 2006 to 6 in 2010.

    Regarding Strike Two (“I’m female”), I can only speak from my own experience – my co-workers over the years have been roughly 35% female; 55% male.  I would wager that ratio is higher than the ratio of all LAs by gender.  However, I’m not naive enough to think that the glass ceiling doesn’t still exist.

    As for Strike Three (“I’m a LA”), I assume you work in a multidisciplinary firm.  In most of those cases, the Principal or Director of Operations is usually a PE, and that field is where the majority of contracts and profits are made.  Even in a professional setting, many people don’t distinguish between “landscape architect” and “landscaper.”  Perhaps we don’t get the respect we deserve among some of our  peers.  Or . . . it could just be that you’re at a firm where only Project Managers’ opinions count.  Or, it could be because of your inexperience (or their perception of it).

    If you really believe it’s a problem, talk to your PM about it.  Otherwise, be thankful you’re employed in a profession with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.  And remember – regardless of age, gender, or profession – quality work will get recognized.

    Tanya Olson

    Case in point – regional ASLA conference this summer; not one woman speaker. Oh, well, its POSSIBLE the play equipment mfr. will send a woman to speak….

    Barbara Peterson

    Did you submit a topic to moderate (with a list of female panelists) or a paper to present yourself at this conference? 

    Not sure which region you are in but you made me curious about our state ASLA Conference (I’m in Texas) so I just now went on-line to see what topics were slated for the conference in two weeks and to see if there were any female speakers.  Yep, female speakers: LEED, natural play, pollution.  (There were some last names only so I’m not sure if those were male or female.)

    I haven’t been on a conference committee but it is my understanding that they solicit papers for presentation (I’ve received those e-mails and flyers annually).  So, if no women submit then no women present….  Nope, I haven’t presented at a conference yet but am working on a topic that I hope to submit at a future conference as well as a visitor study that I would like to present at a poster session somewhere.

    If you have a topic which you feel strongly about I suggest that you sign up next year to present at your regional conference.  Or if you do not have the knowledge yet on a particular topic but are very interested in one area, perhaps you could find 2-3 women in your area / region who are considered leaders and see if they would present something: this way, you could make important connections and could moderate the session.  This would both help you and others learn more about that particular topic….and get women up there speaking. 

    Good luck with next year’s conference; if you present or moderate a group of panelists, I’d like to know how it turns out.  Please keep us posted.  🙂

    Tanya Olson

    yeaaahh….there was NO call for presentations, just a bunch of local ASLA guys getting together and deciding what kind of presentations to have….there are no panelists or panel discussions as far as I can tell.

    I’ve been talking to at least one member of the conference committee to be sure to include women speakers since the inception of the conference and you can see where that went…at this point I’m too mad to even think about offering to present. With that in mind, what follows is a rant….

    To be honest, I’m in a moment of being sick of being the token woman, I’m sick of being the one to organize ‘the women’ since clearly they are invisible to conference organizers like these, I’m sick of being the ‘cop’ making sure that women are visible in the knowledge base, I’m sick of going to my state legislature every year and watching 80% old white guys make decisions about my medical care and the education my children get. I’m sick of supposedly ‘liberated’ guys reaping the rewards of their advantage without a second thought to ensuring that anyone else is represented, or even acknowledging their advantage.

    These are well educated, professional men with well educated, professional wives and young daughters. They should know better. As is extremely well illustrated in this long conversation, they are in complete denial that women face any disadvantage at all….and if we do face any disadvantage, well, we’ve just got to buck up and take charge! Pretend like it doesn’t exist and it won’t! Interesting, coming from people who walk in the well-worn footsteps of multitudes before them. Women don’t have that advantage and I’m tired of bushwacking.


    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Are there any women owned LA firms out there? Where are the rest of the women in your state on this? Women are very well represented in my state and in my area.I don’t even belong to ASLA or BSLA and women are highly visible in LA work. They are also well represented and hold offices in the regional Landscape Contractor’s Association. Unlicensed designers are very well represented by women here as well. Our several home and garden type magazines feature women designed projects and it is normal – a non-issue, no surprise. I honestly never think about it because it is a non-issue here from what I see.

    Trace One

    wow, andrew, next thing you know white men will be telling women what is best for their bodies, while making sure viagra is covered in all health plans. NO, that couldn’t happen!

    like you said, Tanya, “Pretend it doesn’t exist, and it won’t.”

    I would LOL but it aint funny.




    I’ve worked for women in Ohio, Connecticut and New York. And they were all holding their own. Kicking butts and taking names just like the boys.


    I’m not saying that the old boys network doesn’t exist, but I think it’s been on its way out. I just don’t think it applies in landscape architecture and architecture like it would in land surveying or construction for example.


    If you’re timid you’ll be in the background no matter what your sex is.  

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