Being Women in Architecture and Design: Challenges, Triumphs, and Opportunities

Gensler Design Exchange Podcast
3 min readMar 25, 2022
Guests (L-R): Amy Stone, Vivian Caravaca, Julie Jackson

Vivian Caravaca, RA, Architect, Gensler
Julie Jackson, CDT, NCARB, RA, Design Manager, Senior Associate, Gensler
Amy Stone, AIA, CDT, LEED Green Associate, NCARB, Design Manager, Gensler

About 17% of all licensed architects today identify as women. And while almost half of the students in architectural programs in the U.S. are women, the number of women who become registered, achieve upper management levels, become partners, and own architectural firms has not increased at the same rate or in the same proportion as their male counterparts.

In this episode of the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, three Gensler employees share their stories of becoming registered architects.

Hailing from Costa Rica, Vivian Caravaca earned her architecture degree from the Universidad de Costa Rica, after sparking interest in design during her high school shop classes. Now an architect in the Gensler Tampa office, Vivian works on a variety of projects across hospitality, workplace, residential, mixed use, and retail.

“I had uncles who worked in the construction industry when I was younger. I sometimes wonder if I would have had architectural career aspirations earlier if I had seen my aunts or other women in the architecture, design, or construction fields.” — Vivian Caravaca, Architect, Gensler

Julie Jackson is a design manager in the Gensler Charlotte office. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art at Wake Forest University, Julie took the leap into architecture and earned her master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. Starting at the Gensler New York office in 2004, Julie has worked on hundreds of projects at various scales over the last 18 years

“I didn’t really go into school knowing that there were fewer female architects than male architects, but it wasn’t until I looked more into the architects behind the work I was studying, and at the history of architecture itself, that I began to see that there aren’t a lot of architects that look like me. Entering this field with a lot of confidence helped me immensely. I reframed what could be seen as a disadvantage into a challenge that I needed to overcome.” — Julie Jackson, Design Manager, Senior Associate, Gensler

Amy Stone, an architect in the Gensler Atlanta office, had no original ties to the architecture field. A knack for sketching and sincere reverence for buildings led her to earning a bachelor’s and master’s in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology (with an MBA on the way). Now as a design manager at Gensler, she brings experience with a wide variety of project types including multi-family housing and mixed-use, adaptive reuse, renovations, higher education, interior design, warehouses, affordable housing, and residential design.

“They say, ‘you cannot be what you cannot see.’ You need to have examples of what’s possible, even if it won’t be your exact path. Once you see the ways other women have been creative around the obstacles and roadblocks around them, it sparks ideas and abilities in you, too.” — Amy Stone, Design Manager, Gensler

Throughout this episode, Vivian, Julie, and Amy share challenges and moments of reflection in their pursuits, from a lack of representation, to managing work-life balance. As their careers progressed, areas of opportunity were made clear. Through confidence, determination, and the help of their networks — from their families to organizations like Madame Architect — their winding paths led each of them to Gensler.

Their stories are a testament to the power of perseverance, and an inspiration for women everywhere. Tune in to hear the full conversation. As always, thanks for listening!

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Gensler Design Exchange Podcast

The Gensler Design Exchange creates a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters & thought leaders to discuss how we can shape the future of cities.