Changing the Who

Zaha Hadid's Sleuk Rith Institute, Cambodia

Zaha Hadid's Sleuk Rith Institute, Cambodia

One of the architects I work with on a regular basis sent me an piece last night from the NY Times with his own words: Note the comment re the construction industry... kindly remember us during your ascent Joan :)

With the passing of Zaha Hadid in March, there is much talk about the role of women in architecture. After reading the article (link below), I realized two things — I have never worked with a female architect (though I have met two and know of several), and I have never truly pondered the obvious absence of women in the architectural field or the ramifications of said absence on the industry.

Considering I am one of very few women in the country who work as a general contractor, I am well-aware, and know nearly all, of the handful of women who work in my capacity in Los Angeles. I also know what it means to build a company and blossom in a male-dominated field, though I've never thought of "construction" as a male-dominated field. I don't see the gender confines or a glass ceiling because, in my personal movie, they don't exist. I've simply thought of the building industry as a challenging place where I could bring something different and new to the table and, if I'm lucky, satisfy my internal creative. And I have.

Just like the women around me, and those who have come before me, I've changed things in this industry simply by being me. I hear it every day from clients, designers, architects, and the crews I stand side-by-side with in the field. I hear it from the young women who are coming up in the industry asking for direction, and from my peers who come to me for advice or a good venting. It's hard to name what "it" is because "it" is so many things. A softness that comes with being born a woman? A hardness that comes with living in the world as a woman? An openness? A determination? An understanding? A presence? A force? The ability to multitask? Communication skills? A hardy laugh? A gentle shoulder? Yes. All of that. And more. Just by the very nature of how women act and react, what we bring to the table, and to the field, changes the how and why of the industry. I suppose it's now time to get busy changing the "who."

I'm going to get on that. Stay tuned.