Hines College Students Organizations You Should Know: Future Women in Architecture (FWIA)

Empowering women's voices and building a diverse network with industry

by Symone Daniels • March 8, 2023

International Women's Day celebrates how far women have come in the fight for social and economic equality against issues that have plagued women due to gender discrimination. In architecture, women comprise only 23.3% of the workforce compared to the 76.6% of men who dominate the industry. In honor of International Women’s Day, staff writer Symone Daniels (SD) spoke with Future Women in Architecture (FWIA) committee chair Ashton Ezell (AE) and vice chair of administration Emmelia Ward (EW) about the organization's passion for creating a space empowering and amplifying women's voices as they prepare to enter a male-dominated industry. 

Left to right: Ashton Ezell and Emmelia Ward

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SD: When and why was FWIA founded/created?
EW: FWIA was founded in the summer of 2018 by women in the College who wanted to create a space for fellow students to feel uplifted and connected to opportunities. The organization had a small start but has grown exponentially with each year. Watching the organization become one of our community's most prominent student organizations has been amazing. During the pandemic, our drawing competitions helped us expand our network. Since being back in person, we have hosted incredible events and welcomed hundreds of participants.

SD: What is the FWIA’s mission?
AE: FWIA is a student-led organization empowering students in architecture and design programs through self-growth, networking, education, and community. We are a supporting voice for Hines College students. We host various social and professional events aiming to enable all students differently. We work to provide everyone with opportunities to succeed, advance their skills and knowledge, and form meaningful connections.

SD: How do you bring awareness to FWIA on campus?
We actively use our Instagram (@future.wia) to promote events and meetings! We organize events open to and beneficial for all students. We hosted our second Annual Supply Drive this academic year, giving first and second-year students free materials in August. Events like these are a way for us to help support our fellow students. They also help us introduce our organization to other students. We have coordinated events in the College's atrium, including organization fairs and group yoga! We promote our events on College social media and have stickers and shirts around the Hines College.

Top to Bottom: Estefania de Anda and Sofia Sierra, FWIA Mentorship Program Co-Coordinator; Natalye Appel + Associates Architects Firm Tour

SD: What is your perspective as a woman in architecture and design?
There needs to be more women in the field! FWIA gives women a space for their voice and helps them grow that voice in the real professional world. It is extremely valuable to have representation and diversity within architecture and design. We advocate for opportunities and showcase amazing stories from women within the field. Having more women and diversity within architecture can help uplift those in need who are currently underrepresented.

SD: How does FWIA help prepare women for a male-dominated industry?
: We have many events that help prepare women, including mock interviews, portfolio reviews, discussions with professionals, and firm tours. We have a fantastic faculty advisor, Donna Kacmar, who helps us connect with women in the industry and meet with them. It is incredible to hear from women who own firms and work in the profession to gain insight from their experience. We advocate for our members within the College while also educating students on the world of architecture outside of school. We are a leading voice for women in this field and the College.

SD: Why should people join FWIA?
Anyone can join, and they should because of all the opportunities we share with our members. We are constantly working with design professionals or professors in Houston to build connections and help build our network. This is very helpful for any architecture student. We also praise fellow students and help showcase their work by holding drawing competitions shared by the College. Students enjoy this event, and we proudly show all the beautiful work on our Instagram feed each semester.

SD: Can men join?
: Of course! We are open to everyone. We have even had men as officers, but currently, all positions are held by women.

Top to Bottom: Group Meditation and yoga event in collaboration with mindful coogs and crystal yoga studio; portfolio mixer in february 2023; FWIA x NOMAS Networking Mixer

D: How does FWIA empower members?
We have a fantastic mentorship program helping both the mentees and the mentors. Our studio mentorship program automatically connects every first- or second-year studio student to an upper-class FWIA member. One to two upper-class students are paired to each studio and visit to provide feedback and help with questions. Any students who are interested in more one-on-one feedback can become a member and join our one-on-one members-only mentorship program. These students will then be paired with their mentors. On top of these programs, we host many events working to empower students, and students who become members often receive free access to events and disconnect merch prices.

SD: What advice would you give students considering joining FWIA?
: Follow us on Instagram (@future.wia) and fill out the membership form in our bio! This form includes your $5 membership fee, gives you access to our members-only Microsoft Teams channel, and adds you to our email list. This way, you will know about all our events and opportunities. If you are still considering becoming a member, do not worry. Many of our events are open to all students. Just follow us to see what is coming up next.

Ashton Ezell – FWIA Committee Chair -
Emmelia Ward – FWIA Vice Chair of Administration -
Sofia Sierra – FWIA Mentorship Program Co-Coordinator -


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