Girl UNinterrupted is a Boston-based initiative, founded by Juliet Chun and Zhanina Boyadzhieva in 2017. The project aims to bridge the knowledge gap between emerging professionals and leaders, with activities including surveys relating to career and work-life balance, an interview series with female leaders in architecture, and a manual with action tips for both groups.
We had a curiosity to have a better understanding of issues of equity in the workplace, specifically revolving around emerging professionals. We wanted to bring transparency and a spotlight around this topic, first locally in Boston and then nationally in the USA.
We aim to bridge a knowledge gap between emerging professionals and leaders, and seek a win-win scenario in building equitable work environments.
Activities and action underway
Our research is divided in three key sections:
- Surveys to emerging professionals targeting issues around general statistics at the firm, negotiation and self-confidence, career growth, and work-life balance. We analysed data and shared quantitative as well as qualitative findings.
- Conversation series with female leaders in architecture, highlighting their paths, challenges and tips to emerging professionals and other leaders.
- Manual with action tips to both emerging professionals and leaders on how to find the right fit and build an equitable practice.
Our surveys have taken place in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Chicago. We have shared findings in universities (Harvard GSD, MIT, Northeastern, Boston Architectural College, SCUP), multiple USA conferences and venues (AIA National, ABX, Women in Design, Boston Society of Architects, etc) and have published our work in various platforms (Architect Magazine, ArchNewsNow, etc).
We continue to publish interviews with women leaders in design and participate in panels and conversations on the subjects of equity.
Plans for the future
We will continue to publish conversation series, eventually grow the surveys, and collaborate on more publications and exhibitions on the topic.
Our initiative has been very well received so far (it was all a surprise of how much it grew actually), so we have only found support so far.
The impact of COVID-19
We were going to issue more surveys in 2020, but COVID-19 changed the landscape of practice and work (we hope some things for the better). We will evaluate surveys in the future. Meanwhile, we have been continuing to lead conversation series and workshops digitally.
Advice to others
Clearly define your mission and your strategy in achieving it. Be passionate to follow up as it takes a lot of time, effort and commitment to build and sustain a project or an organisation.
Girl UNinterrupted is an independent project, but we have collaborated with the Boston Society of Architects, Leers Weinzapfel Associates, and Sasaki.
Zhanina Boyadzhieva and Juliet Chun