Sometimes, a simple Slack message leads to a major change in our firm’s practices. One of our employees posted in our Watercooler channel regarding an emoji rating system for potential candidates at a career fair. The poster mentioned that this system seemed like it could simplify and potentially overlook the benefits of certain job candidates. Slowly, over the course of the afternoon, stories started pouring in from our employees regarding their experiences as students in the design and planning professions.
A woman who was told they should make their designs more sensual, since they “clearly” know a lot about that topic.
Someone who was told to quit school and join the waste management industry.
Women being told during studio reviews they were “too emotional” to be in the School of Architecture.
A variety of racist comments that we won’t repeat.
Unsafe situations regarding lack of sleep and overwork as core educational values.
As the conversation wore on, it became clear that many of us had been subject to discriminatory or unsafe studio culture practices during our educations. Women and people of color at AR also disproportionately reported experiencing negative and abusive comments in settings like studio reviews and critiques. As we continue to play a role in academic settings, we at AR want to take the opportunity to hold ourselves and the community at large to higher standards that prioritize constructive learning, inclusivity, and respect between reviewers and students.
As a result, over the course of a few months, our team has developed a protocol for our participation in studio and academic settings. These are standards that we hold ourselves to, as well as standards that we have committed to speaking up about if we witness unfair, unsafe, or discriminatory language. We hope this protocol can be used as a template for participation in academic settings by our industry as a whole, and we welcome feedback and thoughts on this topic. We will be providing this protocol to all instructors who request an AR staff member’s participation in a student-oriented academic class or event in the future.
We want to thank and acknowledge two key resources that helped inspire this protocol: