JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Local female leaders talked about how they found success in male dominated professions during a “Women in Leadership” panel discussion held at Riverside House earlier this month.
The event was sponsored by the AIA Jacksonville Chapter's Women in Architecture Committee.
Sherry Magill, former president of Jessie Ball duPont Fund, moderated a conversation that covered everything from commanding respect to finding mentors to navigating their career as a minority. They advised a largely female audience to speak up for equal pay and promotions, form a network of peers when mentors are scarce, and to be oneself.
“Remember, expressing femininity does not make you weak,” one of the panelists said.
The five panelists represented widely diverse careers, and included Michelle Tappouni, property development director for Ability Housing; Commander Kim DaCosta-Azar, U.S. Navy pilot; Jennifer Shoaf Richardson, lawyer for Jackson Lewis P.C.; Jennifer Suharmadji, senior architect at Haskell; and Katie Parks, national vice president of Broker and Consulting Relations for UnitedHealthcare.
Women in Architecture chair Julia Epstein said she wanted to show there are women doing great things in Jacksonville, and to let people know about women in the field of architecture.
“We did a similar program last year with women business owners from the building industry that was well received,” Epstein said. “We realized there are a lot of other women’s groups out there who don’t necessarily know each other. There are women in other fields who are going through the same things.”
Epstein started AIA Jacksonville’s WIA committee two years ago after she noticed a lot of women were leaving the field. Fifty percent of college architecture students are women, but still only twenty percent of architecture professionals are women.
“The women don’t have the mentors and the camaraderie to help them when things get hard. We’re hoping our committee can be that missing piece for women in the field.” Epstein said.
AIA Jacksonville’s WIA Committee promotes the professional development, advancement and visibility of women in the field of architecture.
The American Institute of Architects provides professional development opportunities for architects and raises public awareness of the value of architecture and the importance of good design.