Very few architects are Black. This woman is pushing to change that


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Vanessa Romo, NPR

Pascale Sablan was once told she’d never become an architect because she’s Black and a woman. Now she works for one of the world’s most prestigious firms and she wants more people who look like her to join the field.
Photo Credit – Aundre Larrow/Pascale Sablan

There is a devastating story that Pascale Sablan sometimes tells when she talks about the experiences that have shaped who she’s become.


During her second week of classes at the prestigious New York City school, a young white professor asked Sablan and another female student to stand up in a classroom of about 60 of her peers, she told NPR during a recent phone interview.

“These two will never become architects because they’re Black and because they’re women,” she recalled him saying.

The words — embarrassing, stinging, demoralizing — were intended to prove a point: That architecture school is rigorous and most people never finish an architecture degree. The San Francisco Institute of Architecture reports that nationally “for every 100 students who enroll, only 20 will graduate.” The statistics plummet further for students of color and grow more dismal still for women of color.

Learn how Pascale plans to change this statistic

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