Caution: Moms at Work
by Stephanie Aurora Lewis, RA, LEED

East Germany, at one time, provided full motherhood care services as a means to encourage mothers to join the work force. These services proved to be essential. Since East Germany dissolved, there has been a significant rise in abortions and sterilizations because women are faced with a choice: work or family.

Under the East German Mother/Child care programs, mothers were assured one year absence from work, fully paid. For their children, they had access to state-subsidized childcare centers and nursery schools where children were provided hot meals. From the workplace, mothers were provided a hot lunch and laundry service where clothing was returned folded and sorted the same day. “Not only did these measures relieve women of some of their household burden, but we suspect that mothers experienced little of the guilt that is typical among many West German and North American mothers who are employed when their children are young.” (Walper & Galambos, 36-37)

After much internal research, the current German government is now swaying back toward once again providing full motherhood support for families because they believe women are an essential asset to the workplace. Furthermore, the birth rate in Germany is now so low that the population is decreasing. “At 1.3 babies per woman of child-bearing age, the birth rate is far less than the 2.1 rate that researchers say is needed to maintain a stable population. The not-so-funny joke among demographers here is that unless women start having more babies, Germany could be extinct by 2020.” (Pearse)

The AIA and the National Society of Professional Engineers are perplexed as to why women may attend architecture and engineering school, but somewhere along the career path, they disappear. “Still, women make up only 3 percent and 8 percent of firms sized between 50 and 99 workers and 100-plus employees, respectively, according to the AIA report. Meanwhile, more women are earning architecture degrees. The number of women earning degrees rose 21 percent between 2000 to 2001 and 2005 to 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Education.” (Williams)

Are women simply not inclined to survive in a highly technical architecture/engineering career? Hardly, women are well represented in many other careers that require a logical thought pattern and problem solving skills, such as the medical field, mathematics, and science. Moreover, when East Germany implemented state-subsidized motherhood services, the percentage of women in engineering fields increased by 20%. (Walper & Galambos, 41)

In the workplace, a mother may (and will likely according to various business and health studies) feel anxious, guilty, mournful, and over-burdened. The risk and manifestation of emotional instability at work is more harmful to a child than the fact that the mother works while the child is in a daycare environment. (Some studies even show that children in daycare have higher IQ’s, particularly that of female children in mathematics.) Anxiety and guilt stems from a lack of support for the mother who is often the homemaker, the child caretaker, and a full-time worker. (Walper & Galambos, 49)

Women working are often satisfied by their contribution to society, intellectual stimulation, and by the benefits they provide for their family – especially during crunched economic eras. Providing relief along the lines of government programs or by the private sector may help to improve the overall health of society. Many clichés revolve around the importance of a mother in the family life as well as in the center of a child’s life. What is worse, in my opinion, is the choice many German and American women make regarding their home life. They will choose to abort, become sterile, have only one child, and become pregnant late in life when both the health of the mother and child are more likely compromised. (Walper & Galambos, 57)

Generation X and Y women with young children will not wait for better humanitarian support for their roles in the family, they will (and are) seek(ing) out new employment positions that allow them to balance work with lifestyle. Architects are creative; so why not implement creative problem solving skills so that employers can build a more committed staff and women with young children can work confidently with less guilt and anxiety? Shared coops, part-time positions, in-house daycare, telecommuting positions, and condensed work weeks could mean the difference between a productive worker or one that, while present in body, is absent in heart.

Works Cited:

AIA Ohio Retreat

November 6-7, 2008

Maumee Bay Resort

I. Session #1 – AIA Ohio Internal Communications

Statewide Calendar

A common calendar is of interest to the group. This would be something that each component could use to post local component events. This is part of the state component’s role in Ohio – bringing together the local components and highlighting different chapter events. AIA Ohio will set up a Google Calendar for all components to share.

AIA Ohio as a conduit of information:

Can the state web site link, for instance, each component’s COTE? If not a link, maybe contact information or highlight different events. AIA Ohio’s web site could include information on the different committees that local components have. Serve as a resource for architects trying to find other architects who have similar interests.

National can provide list of what professional interest areas members have listed on their applications. Makes sense to build online resources around the most popular PIAs. This would be helpful in the legislative arena as well – connecting AIA Ohio with members who have specific interests/expertise.

Younger people are more comfortable with shorter communications (texting/twitter/etc.). Even blogs are starting to seem burdensome. Something like a quarterly newsletter seems archaic. 67% of members go to the local component for program information. Focus more on less structured newsletters, and more on the twitter model of brief communications (when appropriate – legislative issues, current news, etc.) that directs the member to the web site for the details. In focusing communications on younger members, don’t forget about those members who aren’t comfortable communicating this way.

      • Listserv/Blog

Blogs don’t require monitoring. It’s free information out there for anyone to take or leave as they please. Blogs tend to take on a life of their own – or not. Target members by interest when information is uploaded to the AIA Ohio web site. If there’s something of interest to Health care architects that’s being posted – let them know.

      • Resource for Statewide Expertise

If AIA Ohio collected data on members’ PIAs, this information could be sent to local boards/commissions/etc. to identify people of expertise in their area.


II. Session #2 – AIA Ohio External Communications

AIA Columbus retains a media consultant on an annual basis. She publicizes speakers, events, awards and handles all of AIA Columbus’ press releases. She works in both print and electronic media. AIA Columbus has purchased ads in Business First for their new “Did you Know” campaign.

How does this apply at the state level? Use the media to broaden awareness of specific issues – not to promote certain events. Honor awards/design awards would be something that AIA Ohio could publicize better. The work of the COTE committee is another. is AIA Columbus’ site that allows for a people’s choice vote on design award submissions. These are civic pride campaigns that educate the public about architecture and where they live.

AIA Ohio could hire a media consultant to speak at State Grassroots about how to use the media, how to talk to the press, etc. AIA Ohio could offer a one-day institute that covered the issues of media awareness and leadership training (state grassroots or part of the state/regional convention). This Leadership Institute could offer the opportunity for all seven Ohio component treasurers to get together, all seven secretaries, etc. This would be something to ask the regional convention planning committee to consider. Invite Columbus’ media consultant (or someone she can recommend) to meet with AIA Ohio leadership/volunteers (chapter representation would be important) about working on a project basis for AIA Ohio. Could set this up via conference call, and invite the PR/Communications/Awareness committee chairs from local components to participate.


90% of AIA Ohio PAC is used to match individual contributions to state office candidates. The PAC is also used to make direct contributions to candidates’ or legislators’ election campaigns. And contributions are made to the leadership at the statehouse, to help with access to legislators.

AIA Ohio has only seen success in PAC fundraising campaigns when the campaign is a member-to-member “ask” for a donation. AIA Ohio has relied upon well-known principals to convince their peers to contribute. Re-educating the AIA Ohio leadership each year could be important. As new board members come on, they need to understand what the PAC is used for and how.

Other organizations use credit card payments (or bank drafts) that occur monthly. The key to monthly, smaller contributions that add up by the end of the year is the ability to accept credit cards. These generate momentum that is typically on-going. An organized level of contribution would help.

III. Session #3 – Outreach to Emerging Professionals and Universities

This year the emerging professionals’ retreat included representatives from the five AIAS chapters in Ohio. A survey taken during this retreat indicated that associates and students aren’t really clear about what AIA does. The need for an AIA101 class was expressed. Brian McAlexander is planning another retreat for February, 2009. It might make sense to have board representation at the EP Retreat. There are several associate members on the regional convention planning committee.

Linking associate members with emeritus members and/or fellows in a component seems to make sense. Cleveland is trying a mentorship program and Columbus is trying open houses with a speakers’ bureau. Some components have set up myspace and/or facebook pages for associates. Consider an AIA Ohio design competition for young architects and associates as part of the 2009 regional convention. A photo competition might be another way to engage young architects. Photography and design are things that emerging professionals are interested in and are already doing. Cleveland did a photography competition and used the winning photographs to put together a calendar. The AIA Ohio COTE is proposing a competition based on affordable green homes, including a partnership with Habitat for Humanity. This could be connected with the state’s emerging professionals, and the possibility of the winning design actually being built would be a big draw. The competition could limit participation to associates and emerging professionals OR have separate categories for firms. Josh Lloyd, Assoc. AIA, developed the presentation for this idea. AIA Ohio still needs to see budget, schedule and timeline. Use the February associates retreat to get input on how the competition will work. Use the regional convention to announce winners, display boards, etc.

§ Connection with Universities

AIA Ohio’s board meetings travel to one school each year. There’s limited connection between the faculty and AIA. What is the common ground and what are the issues faced by the faculty? Student apathy towards AIA comes because of faculty indifference. Lunch with faculty may make more sense than lunch with/for students. March 6 at UC (or another day of the week) – schedule a faculty lunch instead of a student-oriented event and invite the heads of Ohio’s three other accredited schools of architecture.

§ Encourage Diversity

How can AIA Ohio encourage diversity? The nominating committee and nominations process encourages geographic diversity, but not necessarily ethnic diversity or gender-based diversity. It could be an impediment to these. Encouragement at the local level for diversity is key, because AIA Ohio leadership most often comes from people who have served on the AIA Ohio board in the director role. Dayton’s Learning by Design program was a direct link between AIA Dayton and African-American students from Dayton. There are other types of diversity to consider: Age diversity is a focus at AIA National. It takes years for someone to go through their local and then state leadership positions.

IV. Session #4 – Finances

With the elimination of Supplemental dues at National, plus the current economic climate, AIA is looking at approx. $10M less in revenues in 2009 than 2008. They plan to consolidate meetings, use more technology to cut costs, etc.

V. Session #5 – Honors Program

Often submissions aren’t coming through the chapters. May want to consider a rule requiring this, so that the chapters can be part of the nomination process. Some of the more recent submissions seemed to be focusing on what the firm has done in the past. The submissions aren’t necessarily current. The honor awards sub-committee should be called upon to help modify the criteria for the submissions. This can happen quickly, in time to get the honor awards call for entries out in February. Do the criteria need to be modified?

The honor awards are not electronic submissions – possibly this is a deterrent to submitting. Consider requiring electronic submissions for the AIA Ohio honor awards and doing away with the binders. The binders may be perceived as difficult or arduous to put together, and may cause people to postpone or put off submitting. Encourage letters of support from local chapters and other entities. In Columbus, previous winners have mentored firms that are currently submitting.

Columbus could make a toolkit of how they’ve assisted firms. Anyone can use the resources at AIA Ohio – AIA Ohio will send the electronic copies of previous award winners to anyone who requests it.

Ask the chapters to become more engaged to promote their firms and their individuals for honor award submissions. Let them know that the jury will consider letters of support and/or endorsement from a local component. These letters are perceived as credible and important. Firms and/or individuals who have submitted for FAIA could also be a good resource for honor awards submissions. Local components can address it at a chapter meeting in addition to through the board.

There is the perception that once a firm has one the Gold Medal Firm award, they cannot win again. This is not in the rules of the board. AIA Ohio may consider changing this perception. After 25 years or so, a firm that one the Gold Medal is not necessarily the same firm – leadership changes, etc. A second win would not be inappropriate.

VI. Session #6 – Miscellaneous items

§ ACEC Initiative

ACEC has appointed a sub-committee to address common issues. AIA Ohio should appoint a task force as well. An initial meeting to discuss the goals for DAS and their construction reform panel would be appropriate. This group would meet until further meetings aren’t necessary. This might tie in with the January AIA Ohio board meeting. AIA Ohio needs representation from people who have experience in dealing with state projects.


National is making a big push for these in 2009. They are funded by national and offer visibility for the AIA and improve the future of a community. There is an organization in Cleveland that wants to apply for one. The deadline is next Friday – this may be something to keep in mind for next year. Address it at board meetings throughout the year.


Foundation Thank you

Norbert Peiker, FAIA

AIA Ohio Foundation President

At the 2008 AIA Ohio Annual Meeting, thoughtful discussion took place regarding a proposed motion to increase the AIA Ohio Foundation dues assessment paid annually by every AIA Ohio member (architect and associate) from $10 to $15, and to add a cost of living increase (identical to the amount that AIA Ohio dues increase each year) to this assessment, starting in 2010.

The membership voted to approve this motion, with the stipulation that the Associate dues assessment not be raised by $5, but will incur the cost of living increase that starts in 2010. This shows that even in troubling economic times, AIA Ohio members are committed to architectural education in Ohio, and are committed to helping young people who want to become architects.

The AIA Ohio Foundation has, for the past four years, been able to offer a $4,000 annual scholarship to each of Ohio’s four schools of Architecture. Of this, $3,000 comes directly from the Foundation funds, and $1,000 comes from a grant from AIA National. There are several factors that could affect the future of these scholarships: 1.) the possible addition of Bowling Green as an accredited School of Architecture; and 2.) the future of the AIA National grants is unknown.

Because of these factors and the overall increase in the cost of doing business since 2002, the AIA Ohio Foundation had to ask for a dues assessment increase and the AIA Ohio membership was willing to support it. On behalf of the AIA Ohio Foundation and the students who benefit greatly from the scholarships it provides, thank you.