‘Contractors resist taking orders from a woman’ Ar. Archana Jaiswal

‘Contractors resist taking orders from a woman’ Ar. Archana Jaiswal

Ar. Archana (Yadav) Jaiswal, LEED Green Associate, Deepak Fertilisers And Petrochemicals Corp. Ltd, Pune, Maharashtra

Archana Jaiswal-min

Archana Jaiswal-min
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What made you pursue architecture?

It had been my passion and love for art and creativity.

What is your take on the state of women in architecture today?… does gender inequality still persist? 

“All-men” networks definitely exist in architecture field especially in non-metro cities. Personally, in the construction sites things do get awkward as contractors (an all-men field) resist taking orders from a woman. I believe being a woman I always has to be more assertive and stern in my instructions, as on-field men do try to downplay your importance. However, I believe times are changing and the logical and pragmatic men are also there in this field, who values good work irrespective of the gender.

Tell us about yourself, your journey into this industry, and who would you consider as your constant mentors?

There are many influencers in my work and way of thinking. Reading about the architecture history and visiting many architectural sites around the world has really helped me in having wider ideas.

Almost 47 per cent of women claim that men get paid more for the same work, and almost two-thirds believe the building industry has yet to accept the authority of the female architect – comment.

Unfortunately, that’s the fact. We need to change this trend. We need to be better negotiator like men, we are no different in-fact a lot of times even more creative. We can do this by being less emotional and more logical.

What do you see as key for overcoming the issues (lack of sanitation-health-dignity-safety) women face in the architectural profession? 

Sanitation requirement need to be attended meticulously. Both men and women do face sanitation issues but for obvious reasons the problem is more acute for women. I believe we need to make use of mobile toilets in the constructions areas so that all the women working there can carry their work with dignity. There are a lot of organization & NGOs that support sanitation projects in India, we all should volunteer with them not just women but also men, for the benefit of our society as a whole.

How did you get your first project? What were the challenges you faced then and is it still the same – or has it comparatively eased?

I received first project after working for some years in the industry and showcasing my work to the client. In many cases I did feel apprehension from clients and obvious question if a female will be able to execute the project efficiently. This stereotyping was a big challenge but you do have many pragmatic people also who are more focussed on the work of the architect. With persistence and self-belief this challenge can be overcome.

‘Self-selecting out’ – Do women practically disappear either after marriage or children in this profession? 

After marriage, I believe men also needs to understand that it is very important for their wives to be working and independent, so that in case if need be the wives can also take care of their family. After children, I believe this is due the emotional nature of women. With the help of family, it’s not that difficult to manage work and personal life.

What advice would you give your women architects to invest in their career?

Invest to gain the skill-set and make use of the latest construction technologies. Do not accept the status-quo and keep challenging every methods and techniques and be more innovative.

What is missing in architecture today?

In India, it is the innovation in Architecture that is missing. We are just happy in doing what is being done for the last fifty years. With so much scope for change, I think it’s high time to promote innovation in the industry and not be shy about introducing disruptive technologies.

What is architecture for you? How have you seen it collaborating with other fields?

It is a very creative domain that can very well be collaborated with information Technology to make life easier.

Any last words that you would like to share?

Based on my experience, there are definitely many stereotypes which plague this industry, but there are also many people who values good work. Succeeding in this field will not be an easy road and being a woman will add up to more challenges. But, there are lot of changes happening and for good, we are moving to a more progressive work environment. My advice will be to focus more on your passion for design, keep doing hard work, be professional in your work place and never allow anyone judge you by gender. I believe if women be strong, innovative and persistence, it’s not far that pay gaps and all other discriminations which female employees faces in their workplace will be a history.

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