SpeedMentoring Launches Women in Architecture

Event: SpeedMentoring: presented by AIANY Women in Architecture
Location: Haworth Inc., 09.25.07
Organizer: AIANY Women in Architecture
Sponsor: Haworth Inc.

Women in Architecture

Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, 2007 AIANY President (left), and Tina D’Auria, architecture student, participate in the Women in Architecture SpeedMentoring program.

Carolyn Sponza

Inspired by popular “speed dating” events, the format of SpeedMentoring was intended to connect women in architecture with mentors and mentees in a fun and informative environment. Participating in the event, I met several intelligent and motivated women. If this was the AIANY Women in Architecture (WIA) committee’s goal, then it was a success. However, much like speed dating, I do not feel as if it was the best environment to find “the one” mentor or mentee.

During the evening, there were three rounds of structured group discussion; each group consisted of participants with experience levels varying from interns to principals. Receptions held before and after the organized discussions encouraged more informal conversation. Although the event is a good concept in theory, I found the time limitations to be restrictive. Also, the structure was too formal to make meaningful, personal connections. Following initial introductions, most women seemed cheery about their experiences in the profession and their career goals. As someone who is not sure she wants to be an architect, I felt guilty sharing this fact after a speech on the dismaying statistics of women leaving the profession. Rather, I felt pressure to exclaim how I can’t wait to become licensed and work my way up to a partner position.

Perhaps a more effective program would involve placing mentors and mentees in groups with similar goals and experiences and allowing more time to get to know each other. While it is valuable for women to mentor each other within the profession, it is most important to find the right mentor, no matter their sex.

To receive more information about upcoming WIA programs, visit the Women in Architecture NYC Google group.