Out & About: Social Justice + Equity by Design

Last week marked two momentous steps towards creating transparency surrounding the delicate subjects of attaining social justice and equity within communities and the workplace, respectively. ICON’s Racquel Davey, Project Manager, attended the 2015 National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Conference in New Orleans and participated as a panelist at the AIA Leadership Institute in Boston.


The overarching theme at the NOMA conference was RISE: Social Justice by Design, which focused on ways in which the profession can become a vehicle for activism in support of underserved communities. Rosa Sheng, chairperson of The Missing 32% Project and keynote speaker at the conference, highlighted the grave reality of the declining numbers of women and minorities in architecture, but also offered ways to help combat this issue of gender and racial inequalities in the workplace. She believes the first step is to create awareness if the topic is not being discussed in an open dialogue. Also, it is important to advocate on behalf of yourself by using negotiation as a power tool.


The Boston Society of Architects complemented this theme of equity at the AIA Leadership Institute. Davey was one of three speakers for the Gender and Race in the Workplace panel discussion. She offered her experiences and proposed a course of action for the next generation. “ICON is a women-owned business that advocates for equal opportunity, so I’m very fortunate to be a part of a supportive network. In terms of practice, I find it is imperative to walk in the room with confidence in your skills and knowledge. People will take you more seriously if you know your material…” says Davey. “As for what’s next, I’d say, the next generation. It’s critical to expose students to architecture at the middle and high school levels if we want more minorities in the design profession. I can attest that I didn’t know architecture was a career path option until my latter years of undergraduate studies.” Currently, Davey mentors minority high school students interested in pursuing a career in design.


For more information on the 2015 NOMA Conference and AIA Leadership Institute, please visit http://www.nomala.org/noma-national-conference-2015/ and http://www.aialeadershipinstitute.com/program/


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