Name: Tara
Vocation: Architecture
Location: Montreal, Canada

  
1. What do you currently do now and how did you end up here? Any pit stops along the way and did those pit stops help you get to the career and woman you are now? 

Currently I am pursuing my graduate degree in architecture after working for three years in the field of architecture at various firms in New York. I am ALL for taking pit stops. After my second year of architecture school I felt unclear as to what made me want to go into this field in the first place. As I left school a professor gave me some wise advice; architecture is not a race it's a marathon. I think this can be applied to any field. I like to pace myself, and better understand what is motivating me to do something. After spending a year taking courses in another field (community development and applied economics) I decided that I did want to continue in architecture, and upon returning enjoyed it more. 

 

2. What are your current gaps, barriers, facilitators, or motivators? Any of those in particular that helped you along the way? 

I love being creative and making things, so I think I would have been happy in almost any field where one
does this. I enjoy architecture because it is very collaborative which is challenging for me (see question 3) but ultimately has helped me become the person I want to be. 

On the topic of motivations, another thing that is important to me is that they are good. I know this sounds pretty obvious, but sometimes I feel pressures to be more competitive. It is important that I try my hardest but I always want to make sure that I compete with myself and not others. 

 

3. What is your ideal state / dream state of being as a woman in your career and a woman in this world? How will you get there? 

The ideal woman is confident and courageous. These qualities can come across in extremely diverse ways and they are always something I strive for. Being courageous is something that I must be on a regular basis, as the most difficult barrier I face is conquering my introverted personality. In architecture, you constantly have to sell your ideas, some of which are very abstract. It requires a huge amount of collaborative effort and public speaking. Part of being able to overcome this is also being able to accept. I know I have a long way to go before I can make an amazing speech on the fly, so whenever I have an important one, I rehearse the night before. The most difficult part is always the beginning so I make sure to memorize the first 4 or 5 sentences that I will say. 

Even when I do a shitty job at speaking I try not to get down on myself because I completely put myself out there when I could have called it quits and moved on to another job that doesn’t require giving speeches or presenting to a large group of people. 

  
4. What common misconceptions do you find about your field, your life, about women in general? 

There are a lot of misconceptions about architecture out there. One that comes to mind is that there is a lot of math involved. (There's hardly any, and if so it's grade school level math.) Often people ask what type of architecture I do. Although architecture can be specialized there are firms that take on a very wide range of projects (like most of the ones I have worked at). Also, firms that are specialized often have unusual stories as to how they became known for that particular type of architecture. Most specialties happen by chance, and not that that person was ALWAYS interested in designing prisons for instance. 

As for misconceptions or challenges faced by women in architecture – I have been fortunate in the firms that I worked for. Half of the offices have been led by a woman principle. In all the offices the male to female ratio was close to 50/50. So no, I haven’t faced many situations where I felt marginalized for being a woman in the workplace. 

  
5. Any advice or tips & tricks you want to give to a younger you? Whether it be how to apt hunt on craigslist to getting your shoes cobbled to getting a work mentor etc

I usually learn best by making mistakes so I wouldn't give myself too much advice. I have realized though, that it is important to dress well and professionally. One of my friends says she dresses not for the current job position she has but for the position she wants to have which I think is a good tip when you are just starting out - very proactive. 

 

BONUS QUESTION: What should lead your life: passion or pragmatism? (general thoughts, could be a convergence, could be one or the other!) 
I tend to appreciate a balance in life, so I would say an equilibrium between the two.

 

 

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