“Madam, Humne kiya hai sab barabar, aap kaha upar chadke reinforcement check karoge. Aapko video khichke dekha denge hum” – The Contractor.
This was the reaction I received when I started walking up the unfinished staircase to check the reinforcements of the slab they were to cast that day of the very first independent project I was involved in. The challenge here is to tackle such mind-sets on multiple sites without compromising your integrity and to ensure the work gets done at the earliest, it is by ignoring such statements and moving on with the work at hand.
These incidences, which were the first of many that I encountered over the years, taught me a very simple lesson. No matter how well educated you are and no matter what kind of experience you have, you will be belittled by such comments and the only way to tackle these is to prove your worth through your actions and not by mere words.
On one hand, clients are comfortable and find women architects more approachable for residential projects, also on the other hand, once the scale of the projects change, one has to really prove their worth to get such projects. Similarly, in certain situations, Women have to be authoritative and decisive to get the work done when it comes to vendors of any kind.
A little outspoken, straight forwardness with a bit of aggression is what is required for a woman architect to sustain an independent practice.
Being an academician, in a well-known Women’s Architecture College, I often discuss this with the students about the knowhow of the Market place, which consists of vendors and manufacturers alike.
In business, I have partnered with my spouse, which gives us the opportunity to dissolve the set social concepts of work distribution at both personal & professional fronts. This is the key towards collaborative growth.
Shweta Albal graduated from Pune University (BKPS COA) in 2012 and completed her Masters in Sustainable Architecture from CEPT University, Ahmedabad. She worked with various architects pan India including Shirish Beri, Saurabh Malpani and Ravindra Kumar. She co-founded Niti Architects with Venkatesh Albal. Their practice is based in Pune and they currently work on architecture and interior design projects including residential, commercial, hospitality and industrial projects, including government projects.