“For a woman to go out alone in architecture is still very, very hard… It’s still a man’s world”– Zaha Hadid. 

One of the most commonly talked about topics is feminism. People have been striving for ages to familiarise themselves with the concept of gender equality. In every industry, women are not given equal opportunities and importance as men. It is sad to see that after centuries, after several awareness measures, this critical issue has still not been solved. In the field of architecture, female architects are not given the same opportunities and recognition as male architects. In every architecture college, we find many female students. But the contrast happens in the architectural practice. 

Why women need to step up in a world designed for men  - Sheet1
Female architects _ ©https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/know-your-architects/a4030-15-lesser-known-female-architects-around-the-world-that-deserve-limelight/

Most architectural firms have many male architects, and the minority is occupied by female architects. Even then, female architects are not given equal importance as they are assumed to quit their jobs once they get married and start a family or that they cannot handle all the stress. The misconception that only males are supposed to earn, and females are supposed to stay at home and manage and take care of the household still prevails, which leads to fewer opportunities for female architects. This has led to many ill-treatments. Many women have the willpower to change this system. To achieve this century-old dream of every woman, women in power need to step up. One of the most commonly talked about topics is feminism. People have been striving for ages to familiarise themselves with the concept of gender equality. 

In every industry, women are not given equal opportunities and importance as men. It is sad to see that after centuries, after several awareness measures, this critical issue has still not been solved. In the field of architecture, female architects are not given the same opportunities and recognition as male architects. In every architecture college, we find many female students. But the contrast happens in architectural practice. Most architectural firms have many male architects, and the minority are occupied by female architects. Even then, female architects are not given equal importance as they are assumed to quit their jobs once they get married and start a family or that they cannot handle all the stress. The misconception that only males are supposed to earn, and females are supposed to stay at home and manage and take care of the household still prevails, which leads to fewer opportunities for female architects. This has led to much ill-treatment. Many women have the willpower to change this system. To achieve this century-old dream of every woman, women in power need to step up.

Why women need to step up in a world designed for men  - Sheet2
Dignitary female architects _ ©Building Interiors

Many female architects have been well-accomplished in the male-dominated architecture field, like Zaha Hadid, Samira Rathod, Kazuyo Sejima, Eileen Gray, Farshid Moussavi, and many more. But how do you break through the misconceptions in an already aware society? As female dignitary architects, what can we do to help young and upcoming female architects rise and pave the way for more female architects?

Breakthrough by publishing 

One way of establishing recognition is by promoting projects done by female architects and by publishing journals and articles through various media to highlight the fact that female architects exist and they can balance work and private life. Establishing the fact that female architects exist and are well accomplished in society is crucial so that people with primitive misconceptions can see and be aware of the fact that female architects can do the job. This can give confidence to young female architects that, with hard work and perseverance, they can be successful in the field of architecture.

Breakthrough by representation in academics 

Female architects are highly under-represented right from the architectural academic learning stage. We are constantly shown and exposed to the works and principles of male architects to become familiar with them. This can affect the minds of students, making them think that female architects have contributed very little to society. To change this, architectural colleges must include works and lectures by female architects, as well as recognise female faculty. Guest lectures and competitions with female judges can also be introduced to show architecture students that female architects exist.

Books by female architects _ ©https://theglobalgrid.org/15-must-read-urbanism-books-written-women-honor-international-womens-day/

Breakthrough by standing together

Even if all the breakthrough measures were implemented right from the architectural colleges, the most important task for female architects in a male-dominant architecture field is to stand together. Female architects can look after each other and even mentor their fellow architects. Women, in general, are more patient and considerate than men, which can prove to be useful in the field of architecture. Even though women are seen as interior designers and not as architects, and assumed that they are not bold enough to supervise a project and work with various consultants and are even pressured into doing things just to get along and find a place within the male-dominated architectural society, if we “female architects” stick together, we can change the common misconceptions and help the upcoming female architects.

The architectural field requires architects to spend long hours in an office, which in turn affects the work/private-life balance and sometimes even the safety of a female architect by travelling alone at night. This makes it easier to make the profession more suitable for men. But there are several ways to break this misconception. For instance, by having a planned and systematic project schedule, any project, however large in scale, can be done within regular working hours. Of course, there might be a few setbacks, which could easily be worked out by staying in late for a few days and arranging for safe and reliable transportation. But more importantly, there is a need for female architects in this world. Women can easily empathise with the users, which allows them to consider various points that are often neglected by male architects. In a world mostly designed by men, some obvious design problems can easily be identified by women. If the architecture of the world were designed by both male and female architects, the output would have been completely different. For instance, more public toilets are easily accessible from the streets, well-planned streets with no blind spots to allow safety for women at night, etc.

“Women work hard outside and within their homes, no area can be ignored, sometimes we have to work twice as hard to prove ourselves in this male-dominated society”– Ar. Seema Zarir Mullan

As female architects, we are often looked down on and trampled in this male-dominated society. We often strive hard to gain recognition, and even then it might not be enough. We indeed have to strive harder than others to be treated equally. But our efforts are not going down the drain. Our voices are creating slow ripples in this male-dominated profession, which has been causing slow changes. With the above strategies, we can create a lasting impression by breaking past the misconceptions about female architects. Thus, it is high time that women in the architectural field step up in a world designed for men.

References:

  1. Title: Op-Ed: Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated? Available at: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html. Accessed date: 06/08/2022
Author

A creative enthusiast with keen interests in photography, art and travelling, focusing on redefining the architectural design by combining social and environmental sustainability while creating spaces that exhilarate people. A very dedicated and hard-working individual, with a strong belief, that a true understanding of architectural design cannot be achieved without critically analyzing and researching, which can be achieved through reading, writing and visual depictions.

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