It’s undeniable that change takes a while. Whether it is changing a cultural norm or an aspect of the profession, it may take years and thousands of people dedicated to the cause.
I am often asked why volunteer so much time to the AIA or architecture in general. Some days I question whether or not my efforts will result in real change, whether it is passing the NDSA legislation or a certain design battle at work. It is easy to let the overwhelming defeat time and time again drag you down and realize that maybe spending your free hours on the weekend are better spent with friends.
Recently, I read a book about the first two women on the United States Supreme Court titled Sisters in Law. The book outlined the early beginnings of the lives and careers of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. By all definitions, these are not ordinary women. They rose to the highest level of law within the United States. However, it didn’t come without its trials and tribulations, especially in a world where women were seldom considered for professional positions, whether it be law, architecture or business. What struck me most about the content of this book was the meticulously planned journey that both these women followed, knowing very well equality for women was not something that would change overnight. Ginsburg and O’Connor pinpointed small steps and strategic wins that eventually proliferated into the equality we experience today.
This is an interesting lesson when it comes to the architecture profession. We still have a disparity between men and women in the architectural field, as well as a distinct lack of minorities. While great efforts have been made, there are still many small steps we need to take. But this lesson of small steps and strategic achievements to eventually create massive change is why it is important to maintain passion and stay dedicated to the cause.
When I lose sight of the big picture I try to come back to the small steps. It may be a small battle within your office on a design decision. Maybe it is the implementation of a new program at your AIA Chapter. If there is something you are really dedicated to and eager to change, think about the small wins that can help you get to the ultimate goal. These big wins are not tasks that can be done alone and in a short amount of time. It takes many people and members of our profession making small steps each day that leads to the change.