Emily Harrold ’04
Associate, Gould Evans Architects
It’s a strange process to look back over the 10 years since I attended Drury’s Hammons School of Architecture. I have gotten married, had two children, lived in three cities, attained licensure, traveled, worked in three architectural practices, and more. But my post-graduation journey hasn’t been an easy one. In order to achieve my goals, I fought to balance all aspects of my life.
This has been challenging; one could observe that architecture is not a profession filled with balanced people. I realized this path wouldn’t be easy when I was in school slaving over fictitious projects nights on end. Yet I loved it, and I still do. I even married a Drury architecture alumnus.
One thing I’m acutely aware of is how “rare” a female architect is; much less one trying to raise a young family. Statistics for female architects lasting in the field have proven grim. In fact, I recently attended a conference for a project aimed at bringing women back to architecture called The Missing 32%. This project cites studies showing that even though 50% of female architecture graduates are women, 32% “go missing,” or never complete licensure. In other words, these women will never be called “architect.”
Statistically, it’s unlikely that I should still be practicing architecture. I am not accomplished now because I was the most talented or smartest female in my class. I think it is due to my flexible, easy nature and resistance to sexist comments. Unfortunately, I have experienced sexism in the office. I have been the only female architectural staff member in the office. Obstinate contractors have called me “sweetheart” on the jobsite. Yet I remain in the field because architecture has this amazing potential to impact culture, communities, cites and nations. Good design is essential to improving our collective lives. I strive for an architecture practice that is thoughtful, charming and enriching to all. I intend to delight the senses through sculpture, color and light. I don’t allow workplace politics or injustices to keep me from this practice.
There are more statistics suggesting the unlikelihood of my place in the professional world today; I did not graduate high school. I left school and earned a GED after health problems prevented me from completing traditional high school. Luckily, my parents were supportive. I ultimately made it to Drury University, where I developed my toolbox of soft skills: communication, critical thinking, problem solving, theory, confidence and leadership.
Now that I’ve been in the professional world for some time, I’ve found that the happiest and most productive employee is one who seeks and gains satisfaction in and out of the office. One with a rich, balanced life that supports professional productivity, honesty and fulfillment: one with a full life. There is an authenticity in recognizing that your professional self and genuine self are one in the same. Drury helped me enter my profession and realize I would need to seek balance in my life. This is a lesson I used during the first 10 years of my career, and one I will continue to remember for years to come.