Rosa Sheng, “Why Equity Matters for Everyone: A new value proposition for Design”

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Fueled by the persistent and striking inequity of representation in architectural practice, where women compose only 12–18 percent of AIA members, licensed architects, and senior firm leadership, Rosa Sheng founded Equity by Design, a committee of AIASF, in 2013.

It has grown into a national call to action for both women and men to help realize the goal of equitable practice in order to retain talent, advance the profession and communicate the value of design to society. The 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey and EQxD Hackathon Workshops have sparked much needed dialogue that has resulted in 5 sold-out symposia, wide spread media coverage and requests for EQxD presentations nationally and beyond.

In her presentation, Rosa Sheng, AIA LEED AP BD+C, a Principal at SmithGroupJJR and AIASF President 2018 will introduce a provocation on “Why Equity Matters for Everyone: A new value proposition for Design”, with key anecdotes and survey findings from the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey that will frame the discussion on how Architecture and professional practice can create new relevance, and provide meaningful engagement and better design outcomes for the communities that designers serve.

Sheng states: “Equity is the ethos of our work. It is the ability to recognize difference and provide fair and just access to opportunities. Equity also speaks to collective ownership, vested interest and knowledge of our worth. Equitable practice promotes the recruitment and retention of the most diverse talent while building stronger, successful, sustainable practices.”

The 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey was designed to generate a comprehensive national dataset detailing current positions and career experiences of architecture school graduates. With the assistance of architecture’s national collateral organizations, AIA component chapters, firms, and academic institutions, survey invitations were sent out to a broad cross-section of the profession. The resulting dataset — the largest ever collected on equity within the profession — documents the experiences of 8,664 individuals representing all 50 states and nations on six continents.

Rosa T. Sheng, AIA is a Principal at SmithGroupJJR, AIA SF President 2018, and Founding Chair for Equity by Design. She has led a variety of award-winning and internationally acclaimed projects throughout her career. Equity by Design has launched a national movement for achieving equitable practice and design in Architecture since 2013. The group’s survey and outreach for equity in architecture has received national press including Architect Magazine, Architectural Record, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TEDxPhiladelphia and KQED/NPR.
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