Page 215 - South Mississippi Living - September, 2021
P. 215

 We can make a house a home and we
know how to create a special place to experience everyday life and a place for making memories.
Madison Talley
  number of hours without a seat at the leadership table, and accept lower compensation than their male colleagues. “You were expected to give your life to the firm. You couldn’t do architecture part-time. You’d get behind and you’d never catch up,” says Anderson.
While an AIA survey reports that there was a jump in female representation in firm leadership – up from 11 percent in 2008 to 29 percent in 2017 – closing the gender parity gap is still a significant issue for the profession. Culture change doesn’t come easily or quickly. These women changed the game and started their own firms.
Talley says starting her own firm allowed her the freedom to create her own rules and take projects she wanted to design. She was determined to correct the gender inequality she had experienced in a larger male led firm. “I wanted to assert myself more,” she says. Her firm of five consists of three women and two men. “I intend to always have more women than men!
We are always trying to build in flexibility for our team so everyone can succeed at work and at home. I knew I couldn’t be the parent I wanted to be if I didn’t own the firm.” Talley is redefining what it means to be successful in the profession.
Women bring a unique perspective to the field of architecture. “Female architects are more willing to change the status quo since we have traditionally been sidelined from positions of hierarchy,” says Anderson. “This means different approaches to practice, one which
is more inclusive, considers alternative precedents, expands the definition of architecture to reach beyond the building wall, and encompass the landscape, community, and planet.”
Stewart and Talley echo her thoughts. “Women have a sensibility that architecture isn’t about the building or space, it is about the people who use it,” Stewart says. They say women, better than men, understand how spaces are used. Talley adds, “We bring a higher level of detail and comfort to projects, particularly residential projects. We can make a house a home and we know how to create a special place to experience everyday life and a place for making memories.”
These women are impacting the Gulf Coast one home, one building, one space at a time. They have earned respect from their peers and community leaders, and they are bringing other women along with them. “We have to support other women. Women bring critical skills to the field. We know how to form partnerships and be good team players. We know how to set our egos aside and compromise,” says Stewart.
But don’t expect these three to compromise their values any time soon. They are on a roll.
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Holly Harrison has been a licensed interior designer for over 35 years. Shannon Stage has spent nearly 20 years in the giftware industry. Together they own Sassy Bird Interiors in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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