This week’s blog post is written by guest blogger, and Associate IIDA Member, Jane Hallinan. Jane recently organized two speaker series for the Pittsburgh City Center designed to inspire and urge women to “lean in.” 

To me, there is nothing more inspiring than the dog-eared, text underlined, torn out, and cut apart pages of a magazine. Some of my favorites include Nylon, Interior Design, and, this time particularly, IIDA Perspective.

When faced with an event committee’s equivalent to writer’s block, I found the answer within the IIDA Perspective Fall/Winter 2013 issue. The Pittsburgh City Center wanted to embody our organization’s mission to provide relevant, meaningful, and powerful programs that support our Members in their ever-expanding roll as a design professional. With page after page of worthy contenders, it was “Leaning In” that captured our hearts and minds while speaking to the historically blue collared and relentlessly working architecture and interior design industry that passes through the generations of Pittsburgh.


Photo Credit: Kayla Scott Photography

What obstacles do our female colleagues have in obtaining advanced leadership roles in the architecture and design industry? Who has forged through despite an anything but linear path to make it there? Most importantly, how can we inspire action?


Photo Credit: Kayla Scott Photography

The Pittsburgh “Women’s Roundtable” event was created to answer those questions and included a panel of 6 seriously kick ass women. Subsequently, after its overwhelming success, “Women & Negotiating” precipitated as a follow-up event

Here, I’ll share three essential points from the dialogue that began at these events, making it clear that this industry is anything but the boy’s league:

  1. Learn to say no. Sometimes this can actually mean saying yes to something else. Take the challenge, adapt, and capitalize on what comes your way.
  2. Acknowledge leadership from the middle. Recognize the difference between ‘lead’ and ‘manage.’
  3. Have supporting data, be tactful, and get comfortable with being your own champion.


    Photo Credit: Kayla Scott Photography

Although Interior Design is comprised primarily of women, it still requires that both men and women come to the table of this issue. (Special thanks to the 3 men in the audience at Womens Roundtable!). The world is changing, the gender gap is narrowing, and opportunities are forcing us to think differently. Felice Silverman, IIDA, Past President hinted to this in the aforementioned Perspective issue, “We all know the ‘rate of change’ has changed. We live and work at an exponentially accelerated pace…”

There has never been a better time to pick up a magazine, rip out a few pages, and make change happen.

Header Image created by Leah Silverman

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