"Common Ground" was the theme for this year's American Society of Landscape Architects Florida Conference held on July 11-13th in Orlando, Florida. It did not disappoint! The conference was packed with three days of captivating keynote presentations, award winning student and professional work and thoughtful discussions on equity, resiliency, and more. One topic that received a lot of attention from keynotes, panels and the president of the ASLA was on gender inequality in landscape architecture. This topic is near and dear to our hearts at Plot Studio and we were honored to have the opportunity to present our work and insight on the topic.
On Thursday TJ Marston, founder at Plot Studio and faculty at Florida International University, led a presentation and panel discussion on supporting women in the workplace with her friend and landscape architect, Whitney Tidd from Dix. Hite + Partners. TJ presented ongoing research on gender equity in our profession which she curated in collaboration with Samantha Solano from Juxtopos and the University of Nevada along with her team at Plot Studio. Their research was the first to uncover the career ladder for women in landscape architecture and will be released publicly by the end of this month - so stay tuned!
After the research presentation, TJ explored why women leave the profession, citing extensive studies from architecture, and why gender equity matters. Whitney opened up the discussion to a group of landscape architecture panelists from across career stages and sectors including David Rifkind (Chair of LA+EUD at Florida International University), David Hoppes (Principal at Dix. Hite), Ely Van Dillewijn (Founder of Woland Foundation) and Aida Curtis (Principal at Curtis + Rogers Design Studio) as well as TJ Marston (Principal at Plot Studio and faculty at FIU).
Panelists addressed how they are working to support women in the workplace, exploring topics such as structured flexibility and benefits, employee empowerment, and how we value parents in the workplace. Whitney and TJ wrapped up the presentation by providing a Gender Equity Toolkit based on the response from panelists. The toolkit allows owners and employees a starting point for taking actionable steps toward a more equitable workplace. They also announced the upcoming full guide to gender equity by the ASLA's Women in Landscape Architecture expected to be released at the end of summer.
The presentation ignited thoughtful questions and comments from the audience and kickstarted a dialogue which continued throughout the conference. Notably, the topic was highlighted again in the awards ceremony where Shawn T. Kelly, FASLA, PLA and President of the National ASLA, spoke about the continued problems facing women in our field and his efforts to instill a zero tolerance policy for discrimination in the ASLA. Way to go Shawn!
All in all, we would say our effort to bring attention to this important issue was a resounding success, but we are not done yet. Stay tuned for more at the National Conference in San Diego this November!
The research project could not have been done without the enthusiastic support from our research lead and collaborator Samantha Solano (Juxtopos) and our team at Plot Studio : Catalina Dugand and Alain Carrazana. We also want to thank our other contributors from Florida International University : Olivia Bussey (2019 MLA Graduate), Mairin Subervi (MLA 2020) and Katja Rocha (MLA 2020). Stay tuned for our official release of the findings at the end of this month!