Page 214 - South Mississippi Living - September, 2021
P. 214

for women
story by Holly Harrison and Shannon Stage
photos by Allison Anderson, Madison Talley, and Cindy Stewart
  An architect is a visionary that translates the hopes and dreams of a society into spaces
and places that inspire good work, beautiful living, and community development. It is the perfect mixture of art and science that benefits from the collection of diverse voices, experiences, and viewpoints. So why are women finding themselves having to make choices between family and a successful architectural career? We talked to three female architects who are doing it their way and having it all.
Allison Anderson is a principal architect at Unabridged Architecture in Bay St. Louis and Madison Talley is a co-founder and principal at TALL Architects in Ocean Springs. Cindy Stewart is a sole proprietor designer and former licensed
architect who divides her time between Bay St. Louis and Baton Rouge. Each of these strong, creative women have forged similar paths to business ownership and respect in their field.
All three were drawn to the profession by a desire for artistic expression and the opportunity to use their math and science skills. Anderson’s path to architecture school was set when a male college friend challenged her ability to make it through architecture school. They all acknowledge that architecture school is incredibility difficult and not a place for “dabbling.” “You have to have
a real passion for architecture and be willing to commit to the hard work,” says Stewart.
Current statistics indicate approximately 50
percent of incoming architecture students are women. After graduation there is a work experience requirement and an expensive, rigorous examination process to become a licensed architect. It is at this point that the numbers for women go south.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports approximately 17 percent of women who graduate from architecture school become licensed architects. According to college leaders, the timing of launching a career and starting
a family are not compatible. “We need to look at the critical decision points and think about different paths and benchmarks that will help us support women in our profession. When
we become more inclusive, everyone will benefit, including men,” says Karen Spence, director of Mississippi State
University’s School of Architecture.
Anderson, Talley, and Stewart worked in male dominated firms and experienced the pressure to defer having children, work an extraordinary
         Allison Anderson
Madison Talley
Cindy Stewart
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