8 reasons to rejoice + 8 reasons to fight: 8 March and women architects

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March 8 always brings along bad jokes and saddening reports.

Here are 8 reasons to rejoice and 8 reasons to keep fighting:

8 reasons to rejoice:

1) The Lina Bo Bardi Together exhibition.

It has been traveling and is currently in Stockholm until 24. March.  


2) The Moma Exhibiton on Women and Design:

Designing Modern Women 1890–199 is on until September 21, 2014.

3) There are women in charge:

Beatrice Galilee has been appointed design curator at the MET.


and i remind you that great people (female) are curating the US pavilion at the Venice 2014 architecture Biennale.

4) There is hope:

10 women to watch in 2014 by The Guardian, unsurprisingly very British, among which Amanda Levete, Angela Brady (Brady Mallalieu Architects), Nathalie Rozencwajg (RARE), Sarah Wigglesworth, Cindy Walters  (Walters & Cohen ), Alison Brooks, Hannah Lawson, Eva Jiricna and Deborah Saunt (DSDHA). Another article about australian architecture mentions prominent Australian female architects including Shelley Freeman (MAKE architecture studio), Cary Bernstein of Cary Bernstein Architects and Deborah Berke of Deborah Berke & Partners.


5) There is action:

The missing 32% project: “In the United States, women represent about 50% of students enrolled in architecture programs, but only 18% of licensed architects are women.  This statistic, coupled with the momentum behind the Denise Scott Brown Pritzker Prize Petition, Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and other conversations about “What happened to Feminism?” lead to a perfect storm.”  and the launch of the initiative. You can still participate in the Equity in Architecture Survey until March 18, 2014- Please encourage your firm, colleagues, friends and alumni to take the survey earlier if possible.

6) There is solidarity: 

Loeb Florencia Rodriguez and twelve students in Women in Design and three Loeb laureates had breakfast with Cynthia Davidson, from LOG to discuss women in design. In general, the GSD Women in Design Initiative that launched the campaign for the Pritzker recognition is a heart-warming sign that solidarity is not a vain, lost and dated concept.


7) There is more awareness:

This nice lecture by Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, discussing “Women and the Changing World of Architecture” proves there is. The Deane of the archaic Architecture Department of the Swiss ETH also dared to mention gender unbalance  before the Grafton Architects lecture this March. ( Unfortunatly , this was jeopardized by the monopolization of the microphone by male faculty at the questions round). The podcast is here.

8) Things are moving (albeit slowly).

Odile Decq decided to open her own architecture school, which is an extremely positive sign of empowerment. It is not about gender, it’s about reaching representation, showing initiative and innovation.

” Statement from Odile Decq: After my time as director of the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris, I have advanced ideas about architectural pedagogy that were blocked by a strict institutional system of education ill-adapted to change. That is why, I have created Confluence. I believe it is necessary to change not only the philosophy but also the methodology of teaching and research. Confluence integrates new visions of and about society and also new methods and tools linked to creation, production and communication allowing students to be adapted to the world of tomorrow in which they will act. More than the site of the confluence in the center of Lyon where it is located, Confluence is the founding idea. Architecture must not be reduced to a professional or specialized instruction: it is a discipline that opens to the world. It is a vision and a capacity to act. Today it needs to return to its more humanist ambitions.”


8 reasons to keep fighting:

1) Women are generally underrepresented in higher spheres of the design profession.

While the  article by Mimi Zeiger is critical on  the MOMA exhibition, i feel that this is shooting on an ambulance.The real interest of the article  lies on revealing by numbers  the underrepresented amount of women in design, architecture, at art shows and curatorial practices, etc.

“How many women? That’s the question I routinely ask when faced with a lineup of panelists, a competition jury, an exhibition checklist, or a table of contents.” ” from 73 architecture school public lecture series, a shocking 62 % had either no women or one woman invited as a public lecturer. The following spring their data revealed that one third of schools failed to invite women.”

2) No Pritkzer for Scott-Brown:

The Pritzker Committee refused to reconsider a price share for Denise Scott-Brown. This is off course related to the previous.


3) Men in the profession are not helping:

in Log 30 Winter 2014 Elia Zenghelis said, “I believe, generally speaking, that women are better at architecture than men, even though in my 45 years of teaching, of my four best students, three were men. I believe this is the case only because the men paid greater attention to the fundamental importance of the frame and context of architecture in human culture and history, and therefore to the importance of theory. This is a responsibility that talented women still have to undertake.”- On the other hand, he is an old man.


4) -Women in leading positions are not helping :

Much has been written about LEAD, the book by Sheryl Sandberg. There is something incredibly restrictive in saying that women are responsible for the backlash they face at work.


5) Mind the Gap: Equality of salary is not achieved

In Australia, “male architecture graduates command an average starting salary nearly $7000 higher than their female counterparts and the profession continues to shed women to the point where it is rare to find a woman directing her own architecture firm.” In the UK, “women believe they are paid equally, but the data shows they are wrong”, ” the recorded salaries show that the largest proportion of UK full-time women architects (27 %) earn £27-32,000 a year, while the largest proportion of UK full-time men architects (27 %) earn £37-42,000. There is a 14-point difference in the full-time salaries of men and women architects.” In Switzerland, the average salary for an architect is 7167 CH for a woman and 8192 CHF for a man.

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6) Equality of representation is not reached

“Female architects still have a ways to go.”
Women account for 1 in 4 architects in the U.S. -though nationwide women account for 54% of designers and 56.8% of writers.
In the practice, women are often reaching leading positions but are denied representations (typically a man would deal with the client while the women would do all the work).
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(No Women writing in architecture in 1993’s Log issue).

7) Architecture is a sexist profession.

The powers of architecture ” that be are male, and architecture is a gender-divisive practice”. That was said at  the 3rd International architectural education summit by Tatjana Schneider (University of Sheffield)-(she)  made some inflammatory remarks regarding architectural discourse, as driven by male egos and navel-gazing.”  and women are leaving the architecture profession.

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8)It sucks for women at so many other levels.


 Happy 8 March!