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Women in Architecture: Chamberlain Architect Services Limited

06 Jan 2017
Image Credit: Chamberlain Architect Services Ltd.
Architectural Credit: Chamberlain Architect Services Ltd.
During this second year of "Women in Architecture – Ontario (part 2)we would like to share stories and experiences of women who are at different stages of their careers and from diverse cultural, education, and professional backgrounds. We started our special blOAAg series on “Women in Architecture - Ontario” last year with the aim of recognizing the contributions of women, past and present, to Ontario’s built environment and the architectural profession. 

Today’s post is from Linnea Chamberlain of Chamberlain Architect Services Limited, discussing the shift in workplace structures as it becomes more diverse and inclusive.

Women in Architecture - Chamberlain Architect Services Ltd.

There is a cultural shift happening… and not just in the field of Architecture. Women are no longer working in predominately “Pink Collar” roles and have also moved into positions of influence. Recently, The Ontario Association of Architects noted that the number of Female Architects, Newly Licensed Architects and Intern Architects in Ontario is on the rise, and while this is exciting there is still a long way to go. 

Now that gender dynamics are shifting, women are making bigger contributions both culturally and socially. Unspoken rules and arrangements that had silently governed our workplace structure are shifting. Perhaps companies are starting to place greater value on social capital. 

Architecture, at its core requires emotional intelligence, and the ability to successfully engage with others so as to cause and create positive relationships and spaces; design should do more than just look good. I believe that companies are starting to realize that more diverse strengths and experiences equate to better business in all aspects. Possibly in the past executives rewarded those who came across as strong decision makers, associating decisive as knowing. Those who tend to ask more questions before making a decision might have come across as less decisive. Inclusive decisions that value collaboration will always yield the best results. 

Perhaps another reason for inequality is that our reluctance to enter into strategic political alliances could be construed as a lack of ambition. The more familiar we become working with people of diverse backgrounds, identities and skills sets, the easier it will be to understand each other’s strengths, and the melding of these qualities will surely deliver better results. 

Conversation abounds these days on women gaining the confidence and skills required to close the gender gap. Some useful advice I have seen work at our firm is: 
Speak Up 
Sharpen Your Negotiating Skills 
Don’t Over Apologize
Talk about Yourself 
Seek out Advancement 
Be inquisitive 
Lean In…(thank you Sheryl Sandberg)

Chamberlain Architect Services Limited started in 1978 with just three employees.  Currently our talented staff is comprised of 13 male and 17 females working across all platforms. The inclusive nature of our firm has allowed us to deliver better results to the built environment.  Our diversity makes us a better company. #HeForShe


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