In honour of International Women's Day, we spoke with four individual women in various roles within the design and built environment industry for their take on the importance of supporting and celebrating women, and how we can embrace equity, particularly within the workplace.
Read on for our interview with LiteraTrotta Architecture founder Bronwyn Litera.
Celebrated annually on March 8, International Women’s Day brings attention to issues such as gender equality, particularly within the workplace. This year's theme is #EmbraceEquity with an emphasis on the difference between equity and equality. This International Women's Day aims to drive a worldwide understanding as to why equal opportunities are not enough.
Architecture has traditionally been a male-dominated industry; however, this balance is continuing to shift with more and more pathways for women and other minorities being made available and promoted to facilitate an easier entry into the industry. Paving the way is one of our clients, Bronwyn Litera, a successful architect and founding member of LiteraTrotta Architecture.
We interviewed Bronwyn for her thoughts on embracing equity within the workplace and how we can further support the women of today and future generations in the architecture industry.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Bron (Bronwyn Litera). I’m one of the founders of LiteraTrotta Architecture, and I think women in architecture are invariably strong, determined and driven – as that’s what it takes to get where we are.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
It’s wonderful to see more recognition across many minorities these days. I think particularly in the architecture industry, which has been traditionally male-dominated, it’s important for young women to have women to look up to. It’s also important for senior women to be celebrated for carving paths for those coming up through the ranks, shifting the previous norms and ways of thinking, to give the next generation more opportunities and more equality.
This year's International Women's day theme is #EmbraceEquity – what does that mean to you?
I think as mentioned above, having more opportunities to recognise women who are carving these paths and forging a more equal industry with more equal mindsets. To me the theme is about creating awareness, and ideally as a result opening minds to considering how the industry can be more equal.
Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
I think many young women would agree that their first few jobs were a little daunting – particularly in larger practices where the men-to-women ratio was particularly skewed. I’ve definitely felt that pressure, and perhaps felt the need to work harder in order to prove my value. I have been lucky enough, however, to work with very progressive companies who value equality and have actively sought improvement when required.
What steps are you taking within LiteraTrotta to help improve equity for women?
We are, I’m proud to say, a predominantly female-based company! Though we are quite small, we are committed to giving our team every possible experience and opportunity, no matter their sex.
How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?
I think having more pathways to leadership would help, not just the single ladder to climb. Women should not have to choose between a career and a family; current corporate structures mean taking time off can be a step backwards in your career. I believe it would encourage a lot of women to strive for senior roles if they knew they were attainable and sustainable without other compromises.
How can our male colleagues help support women in the industry?
Generally, by being open minded, offering the same opportunities and experiences to all parties, and open to being made aware of equality concerns should they come up. It should simply be something everyone can feel comfortable discussing.
Is there a woman, or women, that inspire you in your career?
Too many to name! And each for their own very different approaches and processes. I think it’s so valuable to surround yourself with people you admire and aspire to, in all their many ways.
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
To be myself. To be true to myself and speak openly, I've found people respect that.
What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Go for it! If it’s something you really want, grab on and don’t let go.
If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Obviously, all for very different reasons.
I think Michelle Obama is a modern-day hero, one of those path carvers making change and bringing awareness.
I have deep respect for Margaret Thatcher who was iconic for her strong opinions and rigorous leadership.
And Jane Austin for her stories challenging women's independence in the 18th century.