The first element that holds the architecture of an entity in a place is the foundation. This philosophy applies right to all the different sectors of an architect in their architecture career in terms of the foundation of an architect it starts with their primary education and architecture institution. If one has to take a trip down in time, a realisation can be made regarding the gender ratio in architecture. Architecture started as a male-dominated sector. Even the mythological books to date point out that Vishwakarma is considered to be the God of architecture. But did anyone ever wonder why there isn’t a goddess of architecture? Architectural education and gender equality are deeply interconnected issues that have gained attention in recent years. The field of architecture has been known to be historically dominated by male practitioners and has faced challenges in achieving gender, balance and equality. This observation can be made when one imagines an architect’s picture of a male would pop up in the head. Architect is a word that is mostly associated with a male and then one has to address a female as an architect, A woman architect or a female architect is a term that is associated. This very philosophy of thought depicts the situation of gender equality in the field of architecture concerning the profession and architectural education as well. However, efforts are being made to address these disparities as one proceeds into the Metropolitan 21st-century societies that are opening up to more inclusive thoughts and practise.

Architectural Education and Gender Equality: A Comparative Study - Sheet1
BaiturRaufJame_Dhaka_Marina Tabassum_© Rajesh Vora Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Architectural Education and Gender Equality: A Comparative Study - Sheet2
Site Museum of Pracas Culture by Sandra Barclay_© of BARCLAY&CROUSSE Architecture

Is Architecture Gender Driven – As A Profession and In Academia?

To start with, the gender perspectives in the architectural field can be structured concerning the legal context, dealing with gender, equality, legislation or the social-professional context that deals with the issues of women, architects’ status in a male-dominated profession and educational context which is focused on studies around traditional architecture and education and feminist critique to redefine the masculine matrix of the education system. Architectural institutions in the 21st century picked up a pace concerning the gender ratio with an increase of women, investing in architecture degrees as well as a few members of the transgender community. When an institution with a lot of females and fewer males starts to produce an impeccable amount of architects to the society, the community still falls back in recognising female architects, as an architect as a term again refers to a male. A question to ponder upon definitely be the following: How many female star architects can one list out in the different revolutions and faces of architecture throughout time, context, and politics. This Architectural criticism brings to attention the lack of prominent female role models, promoted in architecture, history, theory, and profession. Instead, the spotlight often falls upon a selected few architects such as Zaha Hadid, who have received prestigious accolades, like the Pritzker prize, perpetuating, gender bias and under representation of women in the field. The prevailing notion of the “starchitect” as a singular, heroic figure, contradicts, the collaborative nature of architectural work commonly found in offices.

Architectural Education and Gender Equality: A Comparative Study - Sheet3
mumbai-street-art_© Fleck-Media

Through the analysis of the traditional architectural education system in terms of gender characteristics applied to the teaching/learning processes, one could observe the persistence of a masculine Paradigm. This statement can be made based upon certain factors, like a presentation, concerning enrolment and retention, gender bias stereotypes with the respective women and the LGBTQ community, the lack of gender balance in the faculty, lack of promotion of leadership, lack of promotion of inclusive, content and gender, inclusive design specifically. Historically speaking in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women were largely excluded from formal architectural education in many parts of the world. Most architecture schools were exclusively for men, and women were not admitted or faced significant restrictions. In some cases, women had to seek alternative parts, such as attending schools are private architecture, studios, to receive architecture training. A few notable early female architects include Louise Blanchard Bethune in the United States, who became the first professional, female architect. Over time architecture schools and professional organisations began making efforts to adjust gender equality and foster more inclusive environments. Initiatives such as mentorship programmes, women, focused architecture, organisations, LGBTQ-friendly organisations and efforts to revise curriculum to include diverse perspectives emerge to support other genders in architecture.

Architectural Education and Gender Equality: A Comparative Study - Sheet4
Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid_© Hufton Crow

Representation And Experience of Students – Fostering Diversity

Analysing the enrolment data to understand the gender ratio concerning male female and the third gender students in architecture programmes can help identify any significant disparities amongst different countries. Investigation of the visibility and experiences of LGBTQ students in architecture schools can be carried out through surveys or interviews to understand the challenges faced by the students and their sense of belonging within the academic community concerning Socio, political and psychological aspects apart from professional aspects. identifying unique challenges faced by students with multiple marginalised identities concerning race, ethnicity, religion, gender sexuality and a region can lead to more targeted support and recognition.

Representation And Experiences of Faculty – Curriculum For Inclusivity

An equal weightage must and should be given concerning the gender ratio when it comes to the gender and sexual orientation distribution amongst the faculty demographics of architectural institutions. Faculty members should move beyond traditional teaching methods and embrace approaches that cater to the diverse learning styles and needs of each student. By doing so one can create a learning management that is inclusive and promotes equitable educational experience. One effective approach is to promote and bring in more ideas or mentors in the field of architecture who only don’t belong to the heteronormative architect, community and are a part of the LGBTQ community and women.

Architectural Education and Gender Equality: A Comparative Study - Sheet5
Where Are All the Female Architects_©Allison Arieff Simone Noronha

Integration Of Diverse Perspectives Into The Curriculum

Evaluating the architecture curriculum to identify whether diverse perspectives, history and voices are adequately, integrated would contribute to acknowledging all sectors of people concerning gender and sexuality. Examining the design studio environment to assess whether it promotes diversity of ideas and supports students from various backgrounds in expressing themselves would be a healthy studio practice in academic institutions. 

Creating A More Inclusive, Educational Environment

Assessing the campus, climate and classroom dynamics to ensure a safe and supportive environment for all students and faculty is a must to implement mechanisms to address instances of discrimination or bias. Encouraging mentorship programmes that connect students with diverse backgrounds across different cultures can provide guidance and support to the students and educate the faculty members. Inviting professionals from diverse backgrounds to engage with students and training, faculty and staff on topics such as unconscious bias, cultural competence, feminism, and LGBTQ inclusivity would also help enhance the gender equality situation in architectural education.

The era of change – a plea

Based on the fundamental principle known as the golden rule, which advices not to treat others in ways one wouldn’t want to be treated, most ethical systems emphasize the idea that all individuals, irrespective of their gender, deserve equal treatment under comparable circumstances. The question is posed as follows: “Would he want to be disregarded or have his history, interests, and knowledge ignored simply because he is a man? Can gender serve as a justification for ignorance or discrimination?” These inquiries have been thoroughly addressed by modern and post-modern ethics, with the resounding answer being NO. Every human being is considered intrinsically valuable and should never be treated merely as a means to an end. In conclusion, architectural education plays a pivotal role in fostering gender equality by promoting inclusivity, diverse perspectives, and equal opportunities for all students and faculty members. By acknowledging historical disparities and implementing targeted initiatives, the field can create a more equitable and thriving environment, shaping a future of greater diversity and excellence.

How to Close the Gender Gap by Colleen Ammerman and Boris Groysberg__©Bianca Bagnarelli


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Srivatsa Koduri is a fresh graduate as an architect from R.V. College of Architecture, Bangalore with a passion for storytelling in architecture and design. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for design, he delves into the intricacies and the untold stories of buildings - the symbolism and metaphors attached to them, exploring their historical significance and cultural impact concerning the metaphysical aspects of the design. Literature, different art forms, and his love for travel are vital to his architectural perceptions.