Elizabeth Thomas

The multiplicity of a woman’s journey in architecture seems to be a direct reflection of the inherent socio-cultural conditioning that she undergoes. The constant undercurrent of the work-life balance conundrum, coupled with the shortfall of self- value accreditation and the unspoken everyday negotiations at the work front are seldom discussed.

This presentation is a personal account of the choices, biases, lack of timely awareness and deliberate actions I took as a student, graduate and post graduate and presently as a mother with respect to architecture. The constant lookout for flexibility of choices close to home, re-evaluating existing opportunities based on family needs, the amount of time invested on a daily basis, prioritizing schedules for guilt riddance, not compromising on the monetary aspect and coping mechanisms are some aspects that I would like to share within my web of experiences.

With the passage of time, as the role of women increases on their personal and professional fronts, the traditional practice often leaves them no room leading to an inevitable identity crisis. The office culture is oblivious to the nuances a woman is exposed to over her career span. This prompts a steer towards a completely academic involvement in the field or by digressing to allied fields. Albeit, the academic realm is fairly more flexible as it provides some headroom to juggle the multiple roles between work and home, there is a severe lack of recognition to teaching and research as a form of practice. Also, within academia the decision making still seems to be a patriarchal prerogative that has been normalized over the years. Whether its seeking adequate representation, designating work roles or adapting to existing power plays of mainstream practice one is constantly trying to carve out a ‘space’.

Thus, is it fair to evaluate or judge non-cis males for their career choices? What sort of support systems and modalities of operation should come into the practice to minimize these everyday struggles for them? What does progress mean at personal levels vis-a-vis the constructed patriarchal benchmark of success of the practice?

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Elizabeth Thomas did her B.Arch from NIT Trichy and M.Arch in History, Theory and Criticism from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. She has been teaching undergraduate architecture students since 2018. Her interests lie  in the domain of Human settlement studies, Architecture and Design history and Theory and Gender Discourses. Her long-term vision is to improvise and innovate teaching methods and strategies on the academic front and sensitise students to the unspoken sub-altern aspects of the field. 

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