Women in Architecture
March 8, 2016 is International Women’s Day. This is a day to “celebrate the social, economic, culture and political achievement of women”. This sounds like a fine day to highlight women in architecture.
Challenge: Name a Woman in Architecture
Take a moment and see how many female architects you can name. Maybe you thought of some of the following: Denise Scott Brown, Zaha Hadid, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, Billie Tsien, and Maya Lin. If these aren’t common names to you, please go check them out! However, we’re willing to guess if you’re in the profession or a fan of architecture, you could rattle off 4 times as many male architects in that same moment.
Why So Few?
While 51% of architecture students in the US are female, a mere 3 out of 20 registered AIA members are women. There is a real challenge to keep female numbers even with men in the advanced stages of the profession, and this has not gone unnoticed by professional and academic organizations.
Architect Magazine theorized in this 2012 article that the problem could be a result of too little females as developers.
The Association for Collegiate Schools of Architecture have excellent diagrams and text on female involvement from the time of college applications through firm ownership. They deduce that if the goal is to see gender equality (in terms of numbers) in the profession that focus must be made on women prior to enrolling in college as well as the higher levels of professional development.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been aware of this issue for at least 40 years. We found this very interesting 1975 study conducted by AIA titled “Status of Women in the Architectural Profession“. Highlights include:
- a survey showing a significant salary gap
- the startling statistic that only 1.25% of registered architects were women in 1975
- quotes from practicing women that let give some relief that things have gotten better, but…
There is Still Work To Be Done
Below is a great infographic from ArchDaily that highlights the history of women in architecture. Let’s all do ourselves a favor and study up. And while we’re at it; why not ask the question:
If 50.8% of the US population is female and studies show that we (both men and women) spend approximately 90% of our time indoors (aka: in architecture), wouldn’t our lives and built environment benefit from a 50/50 gender balance of architects?