10 years ago


Where has the time gone? Almost ten years ago, my essay “Where Are the Architects That Look Like Me?” was published. At that time there were only 143 licensed African American women architects. I didn’t think it was a ground breaking essay and I am sure many other women had said the same words. That essay put into words my frustration at not having met or seen any African American women architects until I got to college. I also felt that there was no real sustained effort to increase that number.

As the tenth anniversary of that publication comes up, I thought certainly there is at least one other African American woman architect in my home area now. Unfortunately that is not the case. There may be more in the state of Virginia but none in the central part of the state.

In my essay, I put a lot of hopes and aspirations on the AIA (American Institute of Architects). The organization has a Diversity Intiative but others have also stepped up to expose young people to the profession. I have learned about other programs like the NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) Block Kids program. My daughter attended one of their activities. I have participated in NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects) Project Pipeline initiative teaching middle schoolers about architecture during a summer camp. An architect Barbie debuted in 2011.

It great that the number has doubled in ten years, but it is still not enough for those of us in second and third-tier cities that still want to see an architect who looks like us.