Master of Architecture 4+2 '18 • International Women's Day 2021

Mackenzie Sims

Hometown: Olympia, Washington

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women across the world. It is an opportunity to show how far we have come, and to reveal the possibilities of a future where women are elevated by their entire community.

What woman inspires you and why?

The women I find most inspiring are the unknown, unnamed women who stand up for what they believe in and strive to make the world a better place at every scale no matter how small. This includes teachers, mothers, designers, shift workers, nurses, doctors, and beyond.

Why did you choose to study architecture?

From a young age, I was manipulating space and my physical environment, constantly rearranging everything in my childhood home and creating elaborate worlds. In college, I was introduced to the field of Architecture and Design and it was an instant fit. Architecture was the perfect combination of art, beauty, hard science, and psychology, all of which I am passionate about.

Why should women and girls pursue an education in the architecture, design, or construction management industry? Why is it important to encourage women and girls?

Women and girls should pursue architecture, design, and construction management because they should pursue anything and everything that ignites their curiosity. This industry is a beautiful combination of skills, knowledge and creative thinking. Girls and women have immense creative potential and should pursue industries that encourage innovation, creativity, and collaboration.

What’s something interesting you’re currently working on? Personal or academic.

Personally, I am continuing to create resources that bridge the research of children, creativity and learning with the realities of designing and building schools in the United States through the Building Creative Schools Project. This process includes ongoing research and translation of the information into a form that school facility and education stakeholders can use to improve their schools. Learn more at BuildingCreativeSchools.org.

Professionally I am overseeing the construction of the whole site modernization of the Lindbergh/Schweitzer Elementary School in Claremont, San Diego. The project includes a new classroom building and upgrade of all facilities on campus. The design focuses on improving the learning environments for every student and integrating spaces that support the needs of students with disabilities throughout the school.

What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women of your age?

The women of my generation are among the most driven and hardworking people I know. Ambition and resourcefulness have never been a problem for women. The problem facing us today is that we are expected to constantly take on more responsibility, balancing it all, without adequate rest or compensation in order to be successful. This leads to burnout. I look forward to a time when women don’t have to fight so hard to be heard, so that instead of sharing about our hardships, we are freed to share our ideas.

What has you most excited about the future?

I get really excited thinking about the positive impact future generations will make because of the improvements and strides my generation are making, including giving children more equitable opportunities and fostering their innate creativity. We still have a long way to go, but it is exciting to see the progress and to think about the potential of future generations.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their education?

Follow what you are curious about, not what you think you should do. During your education, you have the freedom to explore a lot of different ideas, methodologies and subjects. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, challenge what doesn’t feel right to you, and most of all stay creative.

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