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  • Writer's pictureWomen+ in Design PGH

August Happy Hour Recap

The Women+ in Design PGH decided to spread the love again and have POP-UP gatherings around the city on August 26th, 2021. Though these were smaller gatherings, meaningful connections and conversations were still had by all. As a unique new model for community building, each location was hosted by one or two Women+ in Design Board member living in that neighborhood.

As conversation starters, we used content from a recent newsletter. The goal was to bring stories of advocating for yourselves or your teams in ways that have had successful outcomes.

Each event seemed to have unique experiences and thought-provoking discussion on the suggested topic. We have the pleasure this month of hearing descriptions from our hosts about their respective Pop-Ups. Sharing our collective voices, here’s a peak into the various conversations…

South Side Pop-Up – Hosted by Julia Wattick & Emily Rice

“Our SS HH only had 3 people - but we had nice conversation! We talked a lot about the challenges of moving from virtual to in person - everything from events, work, client meetings, etc. - the social benefits of having in person events, how it was easier to go to virtual work and is more of a challenge to return back to the office setting, clients preferring in person meetings when possible.”

South Hills Pop-Up – Hosted by Shayna Bodi

“We met in a lovely outdoor garden area at Spoonwood Brewery. Not only was there a big outdoor dining area, but there was a big open grassy area right next to the patio that is an ideal spot for kids to run around while parents enjoy drinks. GREAT FIND! There were only 3 of us, but we talked a lot about environmental issues and projects (since 2 out of the 3 of us were specifically working in sustainability). We discussed electric vehicles, WELL certification, local schools offering more environmentally focused learning, and moving to a new city during a pandemic. OK, so we didn’t actually discuss the suggested topics, but we had great beer, great conversation, and found a great location!”

Lawrenceville Pop-Up – Hosted By Laurie Butler

“There were 3 of us in Lawrenceville- discussions about industrial design and installations, architecture, dress codes, travel, school, COVID, development, food, children, discrimination, inclusion and a lot more. A good time was had by all."

Highland Park Pop-Up – Hosted by Rebecca Griffith

“We had 3 in Highland Park. We did some introductions since one of the women was new to the group and working remotely for an architecture office in VA, which sparked a conversation about remote work during the pandemic. We then shifted to some book and podcast suggestions. We also touched on some aspects of women in leadership positions in architecture firms (we were all architects, thus the focus).”

Downtown Pop-Up – Hosted by Emily Pierson-Brown

“We had a really nice time downtown. There were six of us, and we were able to carve out a nice spot amidst the party that was going on around us. Good food, drinks, and conversation with a ‘90s cover band in the background (and no rain!). Lovely evening.

Our conversation ranged all over the place. Some highlights:

· We were three architects, two interior designers, and one engineer. Our careers spanned just a few years to decades.

· Those of us in architecture firms are encouraged by the number of women in the ranks (more than 50%) who will eventually become leaders in our firms, however, the female representation in leadership currently is woefully small (this is nothing revelatory).

· Engineering is sorely lagging behind (also not revelatory). Women are both underrepresented and being tokenized for use in getting projects but then not being given a seat at the table. Sadly, this has been a recognized pattern and not just a one-off experience.

· The pandemic has reached each of us differently. Folks at IKM were able to advocate for themselves to continue a hybrid model of work going forward which has been much more supportive for all employees, but particularly working moms. At Perkins Eastman, we’ve been enjoying our new office as well as continuing to work from home. The balance has been really key to our individual sanities, though we definitely recognized that there is an element of FOMO when not in the office. We are aware that being where the leadership is and having our presence visible is probably contributing to a perception of who is “committed” to the office. However, we all acknowledged that we work more hours from home than we do at work, and hope that that commitment is recognized.

· The DE&I efforts in each of our firms vary widely from none to very strong, with the pandemic having slowed some efforts. We universally agreed that the representation of women is increasing, but that stronger efforts need to be made in building racial equity. At Perkins Eastman, one of our current focuses is around advocating for better paid family leave policies and we are eager to learn from other firms how to do this better.

· We talked a lot about Women+ In Green and how much we love that community as well.

· We also talked about chiggers and other insect pests (recommendations for That Bug Bite Thing and Thermacell), embodied carbon, the Florida condo collapse which has changed the way structural engineering is approached, the hidden lives of mausoleums, and the joyful increase in the number of dogs downtown. All enjoyed alongside porchetta and meatball sandwiches and tasty drinks from Talia."

THANK YOU to all the hosts for sending their summaries and for leading creative discussions!

Be sure to check out and add to the new resource section on the Women+ in Design website. Maybe you have read an amazing article, or podcast, or book that you want to share with the community. Let’s inspire each other! As always, the planning team welcomes your thoughts, feedback, for future sessions, and continued participation.

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