In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, HOK brought together talented women for an insightful roundtable discussion.
The conversation, sparked by a group breakfast following a National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) conference last fall, delved into the unique challenges faced by women in design leadership roles. The HOK designers shared valuable insights on topics such as identifying their passion, exploring career paths, asserting their presence in the workplace and fostering supportive environments.
The participants included:
- Katherine Antarikso (top left), project architect, Philadelphia
- Maria Blanco (top middle), project architect, Kansas City
- Lillian Cooper (top right), project architect, Kansas City
- Geny Munoz (bottom left), project architect, San Francisco
- Ai-Lien Vuong (bottom middle), senior design professional, Atlanta
Watch the panel discussion:
Key takeaways included:
Lillian Cooper recounted her serendipitous journey to architecture, which began with an encounter at a job fair and led to an internship with Engineering Ministries International, a faith-based organization in India. This experience inspired her to use her design skills to give back and act with purpose.
Ai-Lien Vuong shared her experience with the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship, where she worked closely with immigrant and multi-generational communities in Denver. Ai-Lien, whose parents were immigrants, emphasized the importance of engaging with neighbors to create equitable spaces.
Navigating Career Paths
Katherine Antarikso discussed how feeling out of place as an international and commuter student led her to find comfort in student centers. This experience sparked her interest in designing equitable spaces within the built environment by incorporating diverse perspectives.
Asserting Presence in the Workplace
Geny Munoz underscored the importance of silencing self-doubt when establishing one’s presence in the workplace. She encouraged women to remember they belong in the room and to concentrate on their professional capabilities.
Maria Blanco, who has often been the only woman in the room, emphasized the importance of preparation and empathy when navigating diverse work environments.