Young Architects, W+iD PGH, and a More Inclusive Industry: Where Do We Start?

By Brigid Moser Posted on January 7, 2021

After witnessing the recorded killing of George Floyd and the explosive national response, many members of our architecture and design community asked: What can we do?

An early answer came from Women+ in Design Pittsburgh (W+iD PGH), a grassroots organization of design professionals committed to making their industry more diverse, inclusive, and equitable. As a group of primarily white women, they sought ways to use their talents and resources to support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and establish their next steps as an organization.

Monica Blasko, AIA (qkArchitecture) recently wrote an article for YAF’s national publication, Connection, about the explorations into systemic racism that she and her colleagues Katie Walsh, AIA (Perkins Eastman) and Emily Pierson-Brown, AIA (Perkins Eastman) organized with the support of several other W+iD PGH community members. The group determined that the best place to start addressing the inequity in their industry was to confront the gaps in their own education regarding race. Blasko describes a 3-part “Breakfast Club Series” that the group developed, with monthly virtual meetings dedicated to discussing the book The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein.

Seventy women gathered virtually in small groups for the initial Antiracism discussions and then monthly to share their reactions to the The Color of Law and discuss how to better understand racial inequities in our society and professions. They addressed uncomfortable conversations and confronted racism directly. They employed anonymous polling to create a more comfortable, non-judgmental space and gather data about their collective experiences with race. They found that:

  • 100% of the W+iD respondents had witnessed an act of racism
  • 50% had experienced an act of racism
  • 83% believed they had committed an act of racism or microagression
  • 93% had confronted an act of racism

The makeup of the architecture industry does not reflect the diversity of the U.S. population and the group saw a need to continue to find ways to make the profession more inclusive and accessible. To support continuing education on this, and as a direct outcome of the Breakfast Club, the group developed a set of regularly updated Social Justice Resources. You can read Blasko’s full coverage of the experience working with W+iD PGH here.

Are you or is your firm taking action on equity, diversity and inclusion in the architecture profession? Let us know what you are doing so we can highlight your work. We want to help everyone learn from how members of our community are addressing critical EDI issues.


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