Jui Patil, Jui Patil Architects-min
What made you pursue architecture?
Since I was 10 I wanted to be an architect. Back in those days, internet didn’t exist. I had joined public libraries to read during my school vacations. I used to read all architecture interior related magazines. A good hand at drawing further provoked me to choose ‘Architecture’ as my career.
Tell us about yourself, your journey into this industry, and who would you consider as your constant mentors?
My journey in this industry was very very challenging. With no knowledge of the outside world, with nobody from my family belonging in this field, it was very difficult to start my practice. I had no financial backup, everything I did, I did it by myself. I went through tremendous phases of depression when I had no work and no income. But by God’s grace, that phase did not last for long and I built myself very efficiently by observing my friends around me who were handling successful businesses. Initially my calibre would be tested everywhere. It used to be a challenge to crack projects. The honest Me would not ever fake anywhere about my years of experience in this field which would make the whole procedure even more difficult. But with hardwork, dedication and determination, I made through all that.
As regards influence on my way of thinking, In my job/service days, I really admired all my bosses. They had a huge influence on me. I would closely study them, their way of handling projects, handling the staff. Each of them taught me big lessons.
What is your take on the state of women in architecture today?… does gender inequality still persist?
Discrimination happens at every stage. This is more because of the physical factor that women cannot stretch themselves for long hours on outdoor sites etc. Also, the profession demands outstation visits, presence on sites which in turn affects the family life. Even today, many of my clients would face my partner and talk to him. I have failed to understand the reason for this. It maybe because of the awkwardness/ shyness in talking with somebody from different gender. Often people have questioned me for Architecture projects, that will you be able to do it. “Yes” is what I have always said.
Almost 47 per cent of women claim that men get paid more for the same work, and almost two-thirds believe the building industry has yet to accept the authority of the female architect – comment.
This maybe the case in service/ jobs but I have not witnessed something anything this in professional practice. The fees are the same be it man or a woman. Yes, female architects have to be accepted since the calibre level is the same. I personally see no reason for not accepting a female architect apart from the ones which Iv mentioned above.
What do you see as key for overcoming the issues (lack of sanitation-health-dignity-safety) women face in the architectural profession?
Yes. this is very true. Our country lacks proper toilets. The sites barely have clean toilets intended to be used by women. This becomes a major problem for outdoor visits where you are required to spend the whole day on site. I have noticed women dehydrating because of this which in turn affects their health. I would strongly suggest all the builders to have clean toilets for the consultants which are easily accessible. Also with the Swachha Bharat mission, more number of public toilets are coming up which may help in solving this problem in the future.
How did you get your first project? What were the challenges you faced then and is it still the same – or has it comparatively eased?
Mostly all architecture projects are because of references. Similarly, I was referred by somebody for a bungalow project. Almost 60% of Indians still believe that women are less in calibre and they are meant to only do household work. Believe it or not, this still holds very true. In a field so challenging, where huge amount of money is involved, men often think women are incapable of handling it. Even today, it is believed that women are less in calibre and not meant for bigger scale works. I fail to understand the reason behind such thinking. Also lot of men in the industry think that it is easy to fool a woman in terms of finances. Lot of people around me have tried doing that but have miserably failed. I do not think such practices have eased out. All that I feel is a woman should simply ignore this and continue to prove herself in her work.
‘Self-selecting out’ – Do women practically disappear either after marriage or children in this profession?
Yes. this is the sad truth. Most of the women do disappear after marriage/kids. This is because women are raised that way since their childhood by people around them. I remember even my elders telling me that you will not be able to do site job in the sun. I proved all of them wrong.
Today, I stand on my sites in the scorching summer sun for the whole day without getting tired. It is all in your mind! As mentioned above, a woman is required to be at home and take care of the family and house. After marriage, the in laws have high unrealistic expectations from their daughter in laws. This is where majority of women fail and they give up on their careers. Also lot of women get lazy thinking that the husband is financially supporting them then they need not work and instead focus on the household chores. I personally believe that no woman should sacrifice on her career. How much ever financially sound your husband is, or in laws are, every woman should be independent and serve her own self. A financially independent woman is respected and valued. At no point in your life, you will need to fall into anybody else’s feet for your survival.
What advice would you give your women architects to invest in their career?
All women architects should learn to balance between families and professional lives. Not many can start their own practices but there are various other modes of generating income such as jobs, teaching jobs, free lance projects, work from home projects.
Any last words you would like to share?
I want to say to all the readers, especially to young women… never let anybody or any situation pull you down in achieving your goals. It’s a tough world out there but to fight that we have to get even tougher… every single day.