Coming from a family of five, each with a disparate job orientation, I am the first person aiming at owning a private practice.
To use the term ‘person’ instead of ‘woman’ in the above statement is one of the smallest yet biggest struggles I experience. I have been in a partnership practice since 2017.The past few years have transformed me and my lens regarding my profession. The shift from the safe, powerful, romantic, unidirectional approach to a 360 degree view of the same profession and its ways of conduct, its limitations and the set moulds of expectations has been a real eye opener, somewhat overwhelming. Finance management, people management, team work, human psychology etc., are some of the skills which come with the job. Women are good at interior decoration. Men are more savvy with structure. Added to the tasks above, is the onus of constantly challenging these stereotypes.
My presence at any work site without my partner is perceived as a preliminary site visit. Decisions made by me on site have ended with a frustrating “will confirm with Sir once”. My decisions have been cross checked with clients or my partner over telephonic conversations right in front of me. The silent juggle of taking charge and proving myself to contractors, laborers, clients, employees and family members adds another dimension to my scope of work.
Running a private practice in a city with limited awareness of our profession brings along its own share of hazards. These struggles are not mine alone. My partner and colleagues play a big role in fighting these preconceived perceptions along with me. The goal is to create a gender inclusive workspace, both on the ground and in our minds. We shall keep fighting to achieve this.
Neelakshi Mour did her B.Arch. from RV College of Architecture, Bangalore and M.Arch. from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. Having practised independently for 3 years, she co-founded Bluegrey Studio, a collaborative practice in Guwahati, Assam in 2020. She is one of the founding members of a non-profit organisation, The Midway Journey, which focuses on waste reduction and management methods. She is an advocate of mindful resource management and strongly believes architects and designers can play a big role in achieving the same efficiently.