Bachelor of Architecture '21 • International Women's Day 2021

Wing Man Chan

Hometown: Hong Kong

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A day to celebrate my identity and the growing status of women in the world and the industry. Knowing the theme each year goes from embracing basic rights for women in the beginning to taking up important roles, I am fascinated and very proud.

What woman inspires you and why?

The first name that came up to my mind is a Taiwanese writer named Sanmao or Echo Chen Ping. I remember reading her book, Stories of the Sahara, when I was 11. I felt overwhelmed by the idea of moving to the other half of the Earth, away from family and not being able to communicate fluently. The more I read into the book, however, the more appreciation I grew for her. It was a very bold decision to make and she had the courage to overcome all difficulties she was facing as a foreigner in the Sahara Desert. She really put lots of effort in the name of exploring the beauty and possibility of what life can be. Sanmao inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone. Instead of thinking “I will do this one day, just not now,” it should be “To do this one day, I better start preparing for it now.” I want to be able to tell my stories one day and be proud of the actions I have taken to accomplish different goals in life.

Why did you choose to study architecture?

I think I became interested in architecture and design since I was a primary school student. My father is both an architect and an interior designer. When I was around Primary Two, which is 2nd grade in the US, he brought me to his firm for a tour. At that time, I was curious about his job. When I entered his office, I was stunned. The picture was absolutely breathtaking! Everything was novel to me. Floor plans and models of different buildings were all around the office. Renderings of different buildings his team designed are hanging on the wall. There are tons of bookshelves full of books about different architects.

Growing up, I am that kid that spends the majority of my day reading. His company just seems like a big library to me and I remembered thinking those models were toys. I nearly broke one of them. I kept wandering around and asking my dad millions of questions about his job. From then on, I grew an interest in building design. I started to watch TV programs about architecture and interior design. That tour paved my way to dream of being an architect and hence, I chose to study architecture when I graduated from secondary school in Hong Kong.

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?

I think we can all agree that architecture, design, and CM industries are essential and are related to shaping the setup of a living environment. In the architecture field, as we all said, designs should be user-centered. Having the majority of designers being male, there is a lack of viewpoint and opinion regarding female users’ experience in a design. As simple as a restroom design, women and girls would know better about what elements should be included because we are the users. Having women and girls entering these industries, I believe would bring a more considerate and well-rounded design process in general for the industry.

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

Academically, I am working on public space design for Hong Kong. It is the type of space that is lacking in Hong Kong. I have come across different research that makes me know more about where I grew up and how I should approach the design. I believe that urban planning should be done because of users’ need or improvement for the environment, not just to fulfill a standard and financial goal set up by the authorized body. Sadly, that’s what is happening in Hong Kong. Generating revenue comes before everything else.

Personally, I have been learning roller skating. I was never good at any sports activities that have wheels involved. With the pandemic, I have a lot more time to keep trying!

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

I think the biggest issue today facing women of my age has to be self-appreciation. Social Media platforms always portray unrealistic images of what beauty is and convincing women of the most important measure of our value is the look. The fact is that our look shouldn’t be the only standard to judge if a woman is outstanding. I remember watching a video about adjectives media uses to describe male and female celebrities. While most of the terms used on a man are related to their ability, like hard-working and smart, females are often complimented for their looks, like being elegant or beautiful. Of course, we can be proud of our physique, but there should be much more beyond the look that we should appreciate, whether it is our sports ability, ability to write, ability to design, etc. There are so many characteristics and good values of each of us that we should recognize and be proud of.

What has you most excited about the future?

Personally, I am really excited about what I would have accomplished 10 years from now if I become an architect, and of the number of items I have checked off from my bucket list. I am also looking forward to how technology would evolve to benefit users and help to make our daily life more convenient.

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

Whatever you have in mind to achieve, just go for it. Every accomplishment and achievement started small somewhere.

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