March 8, 2022 - March 8th is International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the achievements of women. Women's diverse perspectives, talents, and experiences in landscape architecture enhance our work and, ultimately, our ability to create gardens that delight our clients and communities. Today, people worldwide celebrate women's achievements, raising awareness about women's equality, lobbying for accelerated gender parity, and fundraising for female-focused charities.
At Hoerr Schaudt, we are proud to have a firm made up of nearly 50% women. In joining the conversation, we are highlighting some of these women on our team by listening to their accomplishments, advice, and aspirations for the future of women in the landscape architecture industry and beyond.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career? What I'm most proud of is the job I have now. It's what I have always wanted to do as soon as I learned about landscape architecture. With hard work and truly doing what I love, I have been able to get to where I wanted to go.
What advice would you give to women interested in starting a career in landscape architecture? Surround yourself with people – women and men – who support you, encourage you, and push you to be better. I would not be where I am today without the people who believed in me and knew I was capable of things I thought were beyond my reach.
What empowers you in the design process? There is inspiration everywhere, and it's important to get out there and look for it. I like to go for walks in different neighborhoods and parks, read various magazines and books, visit local garden centers and nurseries, and travel as often and wherever I can. I'm always hunting for new plants, materials, and ideas!
Why do we need more women in the industry and/or leadership roles? Representation! It's important to see women in leadership positions as evidence of the equality of opportunities, diversity, and inclusion. It's equally as important to have the programs in place to support the experience and training needed to achieve this level of success and progress.
Seeing a woman president at Hoerr Schaudt was a deciding factor when joining the firm – representation matters. Having women in leadership roles is not only a reflection of a firm's values, it helps change the perceived conception about what qualities are needed to move into a leadership position.
Why is it important to celebrate International Women's Day? We should celebrate the success and achievements of women, today and every day, to recognize the possibilities and see the progress. It allows for an open conversation to understand the potential and believe that it's something to strive for, when performance is rewarded regardless of gender.
Why do you support women's empowerment and gender equality? I'm passionate about mentorship, professional development and advocacy. I want to help others find avenues for their personal and professional growth. As a mentor, it's important to share my experiences, give advice and support other women to have the confidence and ambition to seek out opportunities for growth and leadership.
What makes you hopeful for the future? I look forward to the day when perceptions of gender-appropriate career ambitions are a thing of the past. We need to empower young girls to believe in their potential with endless possibilities, success, and enjoyment.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career? One of my proudest accomplishments includes going from being a CAD drafter working part-time while getting my MLA to managing as many as 11 projects at once in the six years I was at my last job. I've learned that opportunity is frequently available with initiative.
What advice would you give to women interested in starting a career in landscape architecture? My advice to women entering the field of landscape architecture is never to be afraid to ask questions, share your opinion, or hold your ground. There is value to a fresh perspective, no matter your background or experience level.
I also advise women entering the field to try out the wide variety of roles in landscape architecture and related businesses, such as systems organization, sales, and construction management. There are many ways to fit into this field to align your interests and strengths, and it may not be the most obvious path.
Why is it important to celebrate International Women's Day? It's important to observe IWD to initiate conversations and self-analysis for the application of equality goals. Do we practice what we preach?
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work? When I was in graduate school, I went to a site visit for a residential project. When I walked into the house and introduced myself to the homeowner, he was so surprised and said, "wow, a lady architect!" Today, when I walk onto a site, it's no longer a surprise to others. I regularly work with women throughout each project phase; construction managers in the field office, female manufacturers presenting during a mockup tour, and architects from the design team.
Why do we need more women in the industry and/or leadership roles? We need to continue having more women active in the industry and leadership roles to show that we are more than capable to ourselves and others, to be role models for the next generation. It's important to remind young women to stop second-guessing their capabilities and encourage them to be confident to step up, implement change, and use their voices.
Why is it important to celebrate International Women's Day? It is a constant reminder of where we've come from, how much we have accomplished, and shines a light on the path ahead. We still have a long way to go.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your career? As I approach my 20 year anniversary at Hoerr Schaudt, I've been reflecting on how my path has been unexpected but has given me the most incredible sense of pride. My role has evolved over the years, from being hired as Doug Hoerr's first Executive Assistant when we were a small firm of only ten employees in Evanston to becoming President in 2021 of a firm that now employs over 65 people across three offices.
Each step of my journey has allowed me tremendous opportunities to learn and grow alongside the firm. I am the product of all those I have enjoyed working with over my career and I'm so proud to have had a hand in promoting and hiring many women at Hoerr Schaudt. The women I've worked with continue to inspire me and those in our industry. With our staff at 50% women, we are in a great position to provide paths of opportunity for all of our team members and promote more into leadership positions with the firm.
What makes you hopeful for the future? I'm excited for what's ahead at Hoerr Schaudt as we seek out and expand on our diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives and pave the way for women of all backgrounds to find a work home and successful career here.