When Women Role Models are Scarce
Having female remodels in the building industry is crucial for helping women flourish.
For female workers, having female role models increases motivation, job satisfaction, and engagement. Further, when a negative stereotype exists about a group, it negatively affects the performance of members of that group even in settings where individuals are not exposed to prejudiced behavior. The presence of positive role models who are members of the group has been found to be an inoculation against this “stereotype threat.”
What to do, then, in situations where role models are too few? Only 21 percent of AIA member architecture firm principals and partners are women, according to the 2020 AIA Firm Survey report. Some women might have to look outside of their firms, outside their gender identity, or even outside their profession to find role models.
For women, find the role models you can
“Instead of searching for the perfect role model, look for someone who is skilled in an area you need to develop,” Wendy Murphy writes for the Harvard Business Review. Study their skill, practice it, and seek feedback on your performance. Once you have developed one skill, look to another role model and emulate one of their skills or behaviors. Murphy also suggests looking for role models among peers and in lower tiers of leadership.
For the industry, empower women
These work-arounds do not negate the need for more female role models in architecture and other male-dominated professions. The lack of female role models is believed to contribute to the under-representation of women in the architectural profession as a whole, the AIA found. In 2021, just 24 percent of all licensed architects identified as women, according to NCARB, although 34 percent of AIA members were women.
Firms should actively seek to eliminate gender bias in hiring and promotion to increase the number of women in leadership positions. Doing so will “increase their visibility and empower other women on their path to leadership,” Michael E. Brown and Linda K. Teviño write. It will also increase the percentage of women across the profession. This outcome will not only benefit women; a McKinsey report found “Gender diversity is correlated with both profitability and value creation.”
This article was republished with the permission of Linda Reeder, writer of The Architectress. View the original article here.
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