Celebrating International Women's Day at Hoerr Schaudt
Celebrating International Women's Day at Hoerr Schaudt
March 8, 2023 – Today is International Women's Day (IWD), a global day celebrating the achievements of women. Women's diverse perspectives, talents, and experiences in landscape architecture enhance our work and our ability to create gardens that delight our clients and communities.
We are proud to have leadership and an overall team at Hoerr Schaudt that includes 50% women and 50% men. The women of Hoerr Schaudt are part of every studio and department, including our Partners, Leadership, Design, Siteworks, Horticulture, Continued Landscape Management, and Operations teams.
In joining the IWD conversation, we asked the women on our team to share their accomplishments, advice, and aspirations for the future of women in the landscape architecture industry and beyond. Meet our panel:
What advice would you give to women interested in starting a career in landscape architecture?
Isra: Explore the various roles and specialties and see what aligns with your interests and strengths. The profession is versatile within the design, research, analysis, and management realm and can offer a range of different employment opportunities – be curious, ask questions!
Leila: Go outside, explore, and learn. The world is your oyster—don't let anyone tell you the opposite (not even yourself).
Chanelle: Find an interest or skill you are passionate about and work towards being an expert in it. Nobody can take knowledge away from you.
Stephanie: Don't be afraid to get in there and get dirty! I find that contractors and clients appreciate and respect someone who doesn't hesitate to pitch in and get things done.
Jennifer: Be proud of yourself, pursue your passions, and be confident!
Carroll: Build a strong network. Networking is critical in any industry, but it can be especially important for women in male-dominated fields. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and participate in groups on social media. Work on building a strong network, it can lead to new opportunities and teaming collaborations.
Meg: Go for it. The opportunities for women in this field are abundant!
Lauren: Follow your interests! People excel when they love what they do.
Who are your role models? How have they impacted your life and career?
Fengling: I really like Kazuyo Sejima. She creates a wonder echo of interior and exterior, where sunlight, clouds and tree shadows are drawn into the spaces, where material existence and boundaries gradually dissolve and become a sensual background beyond people, objects, activities, and landscapes. She applies a refined femininity into space creating and inspired me during one of my master's program projects.
Leila: My role model is my mother. She raised me on her own and climbed the ladder in her career. She did so out of necessity but also curiosity and ambition. She made me who I am—confident and bold.
Chanelle: Learn from everyone around you - it's hard to title someone as a role model, especially since so many people contribute to our journey.
Lauren: My dad. His hard work brought him great success in his career and taught me to always keep improving. He was, however, able to get away with cheesier jokes in a workplace full of scientists.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?
Isra: Discovering the field of landscape architecture in my late 20s, going back to school to embark on a new career path, and coming out with a dual Master's in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning. I'm proud of the strides I've made since the journey began 2018, and I am hopeful of what's to come as I continue to learn and grow as an emerging professional in the field.
Leila: I have traveled and worked all over the world in different industries. I launched a new career in Landscape Architecture a few years back, and it's been a wonderful adventure to do this at Hoerr Schaudt.
Chanelle: Honestly, I'm really proud to have placed 4th in Woody Ornamental Plant ID at NCLC in 2019. In a career where you are constantly learning, it's nice to have confidence in an area of expertise.
Lauren: I have worked my way into leadership positions at Hoerr Schaudt, though I owe much of this to good mentors and hard-working support staff.
Why do we need more women in the industry and/or leadership roles?
Fengling: Society demands more of women in multiple roles, and the biggest issue in the career of female architects is how to balance career and family. We need more women to advocate for ourselves.
Leila: We need to have everyone's perspective to build the cities, places, and businesses of tomorrow. We also need to look out for each other within the industry, across hierarchies and companies.
Chanelle: It's as simple as every ecosystem succeeds more with diversity. An industry inclusive of everyone, including women, is more resilient and effective, especially as design professionals create space to address the needs of all kinds of people.
Jennifer: Every woman brings unique talents to a team—from creativity to drawing details—every different skill makes us better as a whole.
Meg: Having a woman's sensibility, experience and skills in leadership provide a necessary perspective and voice that not only improves workplace culture, but also elevates the work itself.
Why do you think it's important to celebrate International Women's Day?
Fengling: A diverse and inclusive society requires us to celebrate and value everyone.
Jasmine: I am very grateful to all the women who came before me in this industry across every walk of life. Collectively, we are responsible for forging the path toward a more equitable, inclusive, kind, and loving world. It is a day we can celebrate and reflect upon how much progress we have made so far.
Stephanie: It's important to me to show little girls all over the world what can be done! That they deserve equal treatment, access to education, and whatever career they want.
Meg: Like any holiday or event, it is important to celebrate successes and focus on what still needs to improve.
Why do you support women's empowerment and gender equality?
Fengling: When we work together to understand the synergies between gender, race, and religion, we enrich our dialogue to promote a more integrated and equal society.
Jasmine: Each of us has unique skills and characteristics to offer, no matter which role we are in. I am very glad we share a common love for nature, and are all part of the force steering our future toward a better vision.
Chanelle: Representation is important. Seeing someone "like you" in a leadership (or any) position empowers you to achieve what you want.
Lauren: Representation of diverse perspectives best supports the most successful solution, especially in a service industry where we have such a wide range of clients.
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
Chanelle: In general, I see more women in technical roles, and fewer people belittling or questioning their contributions. The internet has helped a lot by making knowledge and opportunities more easily accessible.
Carroll: In my 20 years at Hoerr Schaudt, I've watched our firm grow and have met so many talented people. As we've continued to expand, it makes me proud to see that we are a more balanced firm having a 50/50 split of men and women.
What empowers you in the design process or in the industry in general?
Isra: My cultural background and upbringing, in that it allows me to offer unique perspectives to the community of landscape architecture. I also feel empowered when I discover projects from around the world that emphasize community-led initiatives and place people and the environment at the forefront of the design process – it not only serves as inspiration but as a reminder of why I embarked on this profession in the first place.
Fengling: Working on public projects and thinking about how spaces are used by everyone. This really helps me see the potential of landscape architecture to positively influence human connection and social justice.
Stephanie: Having a great team of people makes anything possible - there's always someone to bounce ideas off of, help me problem solve and pitch in to get things done. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed!