As I read the women architects’ responses to the “Going Places” survey in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of Architecture Australia during my lunchbreak today, I could not help but pause and consider my own career and future opportunities.
I am a 24-year-old female graduate architect with one year’s experience in a four-to-five-person firm in Western Australia. As I have recently got married after graduating from university, there have been subtle and unsubtle queries from well-meaning family, friends and acquaintances about the possibility of impending motherhood. They all assume I am going to take the next step after marriage, which is children. I am known in the workplace and my circle of friends as an ambitious and conscientious person who survived five consecutive years of architecture study dotted with casual retail employment, started full-time work the following year, got engaged several weeks later, got married six months later, and bought a house three months after that.
Having completed one year of architectural practice and gained a little bit more confidence and understanding about the industry, I am stepping back and taking stock of what has happened over the last hectic six years and what lies ahead career-wise and family-wise.
I want to establish my own practice in the future after gaining more experience and registering as an architect, yet want to have children around the same time.
We are discussing such issues as when to have children, how can we afford a family, how do we maintain our jobs, where do we want our respective careers to go, what city and country do we want to live in, my career opportunities within my current workplace, and so on.
I found the variety of responses in the article extremely relevant and somewhat reassuring to a young female architect.
I most definitely desire and attempt to create a balance between home and work life, and will compromise work responsibilities should my family relationships suffer. I finished reading the article with a sense of relief that other women are dealing with the same issues and have acknowledged the difficulties they have faced as women architects.
It also made me question how I would structure the workplace and employees when I get the opportunity to take a management role in a company or in my own business. CATHERINE TAN