A+W NZ Fathers' Forum

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16 October 2019

At A+W NZ we prefer to focus on the good news stories, and want to provide examples to the graduating students and current workforce of how the careers of all architects can be supported in their careers – regardless of gender – by fathers sharing the workload of ‘care’.

We also want to celebrate the excellent care work that fathers do - not a topic often aired within the context of discussing architectural careers.

The first A+W NZ Fathers' Forum was held on Monday 11 November, with a wonderful panel discussed how they balance parenting with their architectural career;

Grant Bulley  (Consultant, previously Beca Director)
Andrew Tu'Inukuafe (Principal, Warren & Mahoney)
Rico Chan (Architectural Team Manager, Catalyst)
Jeremy Purcell (Architectus)
Rajan Hira (Chow: Hill)

The evening was opened by Kaumatua Pita Turei (Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, Ngati Paoa, Nga Rauru Kiitahi), who ended his opening words with a description of his connection to the architectural community as a father - to his daughter Raukura Turei, and that he is soon to be a grandfather. Following is the introduction by Lynda Simmons at the first Fathers' Forum event, held on Monday 11 November 2019, 6-9pm.

The conversation was recorded, and we will add parts of each of the five panel members' descriptions of their lives as parents as well as architects within the next few weeks.

'The conversation around parenting-while-being-an-architect is dominated by women, and about women, (for obvious reasons) and this restricts progress on any real change from within the profession in providing support for the careers of those with families. It is the long-term aim of A+W NZ to have this conversation shared across genders, because we believe that widening this discussion will be of benefit to all – practice managers, architects and graduates, partners, and especially the children.

The separation of working and domestic lives that has always propped up the profession is less clear now that all parents are doing both, and we want conversations such as these to assist architectural practices in how to address the growing demand for flexible and reduced hours.

We intend that tonight’s panel is the first of a series - where the amazing work being done, by men, in terms of their parenting is made visible.

 

New Zealand currently has the ultimate ‘father as carer’ example, with Clarke Gayford supporting our Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, the ‘working mum’. Adern has been able to continue in her demanding job with help – with lots of help. What the nation has been able to see is the highly-visible support system that is required when working lives and family combine. (We have watched as a combination of shared Parental leave, reduced hours, extended family support and paid care have all been at play.)

For an architect to have a family, there is an un-seen ‘care’ system that supports the ability to spend time in the office. Today both work and care is more commonly divided among the care-givers, although it is difficult to do this equally due to legislative, contractual and (practice) cultural barriers.

Other workforces are way ahead of architecture in New Zealand – with banking and insurance companies currently leading the way in terms of structural change in the workplace. (eg. Perpetual Guardian has established a 4-day working week, QBE Insurance has a ‘Share the Care’ programme, where the legislative primary and secondary role definitions have been eliminated from their contracts etc)

 

Our first female NZIA President Helen Tippett once said that an architect who is also the primary caregiver loses 10 years of their career - and over the last three decades I have watched as this has played out with my peers, colleagues and students. A+W NZ take the view that there is absolutely no reason that that 10 years cannot be shared into two lots of five.

While this will take an adjustment of practice management, practice culture and social bias, we want to highlight those who have put such sharing into place already, such as those on our panel tonight.

 

A quick word on the makeup of the panel –

The panel tonight is what I have dubbed the ‘happy families’ panel, as while there is a diverse range of stories among them, the common theme is that in each family there are two cis-gendered parents involved in the care duties with children.

This is not an oversight, and we are not presenting this as the norm. The focus of this panel is the complexities involved when two parents are navigating their reduced hours in architecture, and we wanted to include women in the initial conversation, as the partners of the fathers. The planned annual panels of the future will include solo parents, blended families and queer fathers.

 

Each of our panel members will introduce themselves, sharing their background in both their family and working lives. A+W NZ would like to thank them all for being part of this circle of conversation tonight, sharing experiences that can hopefully benefit individuals making family decisions as well as practices from large to small, who are trying to handle the shifts in their teams.'

Panellists Grant Bulley, Andrew Tu'inukuafe, Rico Chan, Jeremy Purcell and Rajan Hira introduced themselves and the conversation began...

The event was closed with summary comments and a karakia by Pita Turei.

 

Thank you to Moller Architects who supported this event.

 

Rajan Hira reflects on the discussion;

"I’ve been thinking about the session itself.

The audience was generally already on board with the concept of sharing parenting roles / flexible working.

The thinking in the room was generally “How can we do this?” rather than “Why should we do this?”"

As you know, we need to get this in front of those who are less receptive to the idea / unaware that this is an option."

 

A+W NZ know that the only real change will come when the practice leaders decide that it is economically beneficial.

Someone needs to do the numbers on that - in our view, retaining talent is an economic benefit.

Let's keep the conversation so we can find some structural support for practices around handling such a flexible workforce.

When:  Monday 11 November 2019, 6-9pm

Where: Te Iringa Room, Sir Paul Reeves Building WG-308, AUT Auckland

Cost:   Free

Please register via Eventbrite for catering purposes

The first A+W NZ Fathers' Forum is coming up on Monday 11 November, and we are very proud to announce the panel. Joining us to discuss the support systems required for both parenting and working in architecture are;

Grant Bulley  (Consultant, previously Beca Director)
Andrew Tu'Inukuafe (Principal, Warren & Mahoney)
Rico Chan (Architectural Team Manager, Catalyst)
Jeremy Purcell (Architectus)
Rajan Hira (Chow: Hill)

For any architect to also have a family, a huge amount of support is required. This is true regardless of gender, although traditionally the support system has been mainly carried out by women. While the work is still unpaid and invisible, the gender balance is changing, as more and more men become more involved in the care aspects of family life. The benefits to the entire family are enormous - including closer bonds between fathers and children, and support for the career of the partner.

The question 'How Do You Do It?' is usually directed at women, and it is not often on the agenda in Practice Management meetings in offices. Here we ask the question of men - architects who are also sharing the 'care' work involved in raising children, and making room for the careers of their partners.

This event is aimed at a full range of people working in architecture -  from Practice Principals to students and graduates. Male or female, if you are managing your work and family lives, or thinking of starting a family, come along to hear how others are doing it

Let’s focus on fathers for a while, because the architectural profession does not often make visible or make room for the excellent work that fathers do raising their children.

For an architect to have a family, there is an un-seen ‘care’ system that supports the ability to spend time in the office, with the traditional model of a full-time worker and full-time carer no longer being relevant. However the make-up of the family, usually both work and care is divided among the care-givers, although it is difficult to do this equally due to legislative, contractual and (practice) cultural barriers.

The devaluation of ‘care’ also means that males tend to be excluded from this domain, despite strong evidence that they want to participate more in parenting and other care roles. The findings from a recent study showed that 41.5% of males wanted more time available for family-related care, and if this were put into practice, the whole family benefits.

Regardless of gender, part-time work can be a career-killer for architects, and we are hopeful that this is changing. By normalising the sharing of the work associated with raising children, the careers of all architects can be supported. This will take Practice Management structural changes to mitigate the effects that a career break for raising children can have on an architect’s career.

This event will be a panel discussion of how architects balance their working week with their care-giver role in the family. This conversation is constantly framed by gender, focussing on women, but this time we want to hear from the fathers.

Sheree J. Gibb, David M. Fergusson and Joseph M. Boden ’Gender Differences in Paid and Unpaid Work. Findings from a New Zealand Birth Cohort.’ Policy Quarterly – Volume 9, Issue 3 – August 2013 – Pages 65- 71