Submitted by Diane Tien, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, NCARB
Mentoring was the buzz word at this year’s AIA National Convention in Miami, which included multiple programs featuring some form of mentoring or networking component. As someone who has been promoting mentoring programs locally in New York City, I was enthused to see emphasis placed on such an important aspect of the profession. The Women in Architecture Committee of New York City has been hosting an annual Speed Mentoring program locally in New York for the past three years and as one of the co-Chairs of the committee, I am proud that our committee had the opportunity to present this program as a continuing education seminar in Miami this year.
Speed Mentoring was the first program WIA hosted in NYC when I joined the group in the spring of 2007. My co-Chair Nancy Goshow and I recognized that growth and advancement of women in the profession were issues not currently being addressed by the industry. There was a gap in the workforce and we excogitated potential causes and solutions; women sometimes leave the profession because of life choices, career choices, and sometimes, we leave because we feel like minorities without proper benefits. There are no definitive answers for why women leave the profession or don’t advance as they deserve to, but it was decided that we needed to address this issue by building a network to connect women and provide some form of support. Women communicate differently and flourish in different types of environments, which is why WIA NYC developed the tiered mentoring concept. Mentoring doesn’t always happen top-down; senior women also need younger perspectives to help navigate issues our more youthful generations face. Everyone has something to share and can contribute to growing a support network.
This was the first time WIA NYC brought Speed Mentoring to the National Convention, introducing it to a national audience. I had trepidations about how it would work and be received, given that we had no control over attendees. However, regular contributing committee members, Lori Apfel Cardeli and Angelina Pinto did everything they could to ensure the program would be successful and we had great turnout. While some women were concerned about not being able to hear, I was fond of the hubbub that is a sure sign of everyone talking and enjoying themselves. The goal of the program was to allow people the opportunity to meet and congregate with others, connect on a superficial level but build that connection into something more worthwhile in the long run. From the feedback our committee has received post convention, it seems people are reaching out and multiple relationships are developing as we speak.
WOMEN IN ARCHITECTURE DINNER
What was also on the docket for Miami, besides the beach, was the Women in Architecture Dinner. This year’s dinner was held befittingly at the Women’s Club of Coconut Grove, a historic organization that dedicates their efforts to Historic Preservation and other philanthropic causes. The evening started out lively with fresh hors d’oeuvres and some much needed libation. This was my third time attending the Women in Architecture dinner, I always meet brilliant women that I can connect to and on a few occasions, build lasting friendships with. This year’s speaker was Angela Brooks, representing Pugh+Scarpa Architects, winner of AIA and California’s National Firm Award for 2010. Ms. Brooks was inspiring, direct, and demonstrated immense passion for her work, which in addition to winning awards, makes profound social impact. It was a wonderful evening spent in great company, I met women from all around the country and shared valuable conversations with each of them.
Over the years I have found the annual convention an ample source for professional development; whether through tours, continuing education seminars, or social events such as the Women in Architecture Dinner. Architecture is not just about detailing and buildings, it is about team work and building communities, neighborhoods, and cities. As a woman, I am glad to be considered part of the amazing group I met this June in Miami.
Diane Tien is one of the Co-chairs of the AIA New York City Chapter committee of Women in Architecture. Leadership development and mentoring are two areas that have long been important to Ms. Tien. As an Associate and Project Architect with Perkins+Will in New York, Ms. Tien has experience in institutional/higher education and corporate interior market sectors, and specializes in healthcare design. In addition, Ms. Tien is currently pursuing her Master degree in Business Administration on a part-time basis at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
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