Female architects can often push themselves too hard in trying to reach the impossible goal of creating the truly perfect building.
Is it time for women in architecture to curb their tendency toward perfectionism?
is the need for design and all that is connected in creating a beautiful building - a work of art - subject to the perfectionist syndrome within female architects?
Women strive to stand out in the architecture field - to tick all the boxes and ensure perfect results. Yet men will often look at a job specification, career posting and move down the list and say “I can do most of what is asked” and ahead they go.
Women often find themselves in “analysis paralysis” with creatives especially atop this list. Conside musicians who have given a stunning performance, walk off the stage and feel they failed because they played a couple of wrong notes. No one in the audience noticed, but they are their own worst critics.
In the world of architecture, perfect design is seen as a vision and mission to be achieved, with a higher percentage of women finding themselves moving toward this self-imposed measurement of expertise. And if this does not happen or they fall short then they feel they have failed miserably as a creator. Many can feel insecure and doubt whether they are good enough, whether anyone will love their designs and what their actual worth is. Is this an area that has female dominance? Do women strive to create perfection constantly whereas men tend to be more relaxed?
It is time for women to have the courage to throw off their shackles and start believing in themselves. To have the courage to throw caution to the wind and resonate with their work. And to think about what is the root cause of this syndrome.
When great architecture is based on beauty of form, design and environment, there can be healthy versions of the “perfectionist myth.” And yes, this helps to create buildings that are stunning. But if we let that part of ourselves run rampant, we are left with a sense of losing our true self when we don’t believe and trust in the unique woman that sits inside. Our design process suffers too.
“Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again,” Richard Branson has said. “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
Why do men connect with these thoughts and move their career further while many women decide that if they cannot create the perfect design or building, that they had better stop, reassess their path, procrastinate, deliberate and overthink the project so in their eyes it is perfect?
Often as they go down this path, the client decides to make a myriad of changes to the project. It destroys the "perfect building" and the architect is left with a shell of her creative self to continue on with the build.
It is absolutely important to create designs that have female footprints - designs with passion and purpose. For many, this is challenging. So where do these women go? Down the path that hits them in the face and starts to destroy the creative within?
Performing artists are faced with this dilemma each day. Do the critics love or despise their work? And emotionally, if their work is beloved, life is great, but if not, life sucks. Do women have to keep trying to be the perfect architect and spend countless hours reworking their design? Can they stand up and with confidence and communicate to the client their vision and how it will enhance and inspire an organization or home?
The merciless treadmill of perfection is time consuming and exhausting! What about developing more communities that inspire and support women’s designs, that encourage boldness in the workplace and with clients, and that move toward changing the female myth of having to strive and be perfect in all areas of architecture and design?