A woman experiences different kinds of hurdles, not only in architecture but in most career choices. She has to balance both her personal and work life in order to flourish in both fields. But, during the initial stages as an architect, every woman goes through a very difficult time, finding their niche or their podium in this ‘mostly’ patriarchal profession. Unless she has the potential to set her own workspace or identity, she must struggle a lot. Not easily accepted as per ‘societal norms’, it takes a lot of time for a woman to set an identity of herself and her work in this field. Usually, a female architect will start working along with her partner and sets up a firm. This is the scenario with most of the female architects. It is not that, a woman cannot achieve alone, but it is one of the ways that a female architect sets her career. Despite all this, women are flourishing in almost every field of architecture. Ranging from interior designer to architectural journalist, Site manager, and many more. While some are successful, some reaching their paths to success.
Listing down a few major hurdles which every female architect goes through her initial stages of practice.
- Gender inequality
- Lower preference compared to other fellow male architects
- Long working hours
- Unequal pay
- Discouraging other genres of work in the field of Architecture.
Despite these inequalities, the female architect works hard to restrain their passion to achieve a place in the ocean of Architecture. Especially in a male-driven office, in most cases, the female architects are given computer-oriented works rather than site works because of safety and other issues. On odd occasions, such stereotypes will steer them to job shifting and it eventually results in a smaller number of practicing female architects. It is recorded that 40% of students get graduated and not more than 12% end in practicing architecture. To avoid these situations most of the female architects end up doing freelance works.
It is not as easy as it looks to be a female architect with all these obstacles. It is substantial to accept the fact that, an architect who comes up with innovative ideas to practice architecture through constant hard work can surely achieve in the field of architecture– be it a man or a woman.
In the present-day scenario, women are achieving higher levels, despite their hardships all around the world. Some world-famous female architects, breaking the stereotypes are – Zaha Hadid (1950 – 2016), Odile Decq (1955 – present), Maya Lin (1959 – present), Jane Drew (1911 – 1996), Denise Scott Brown (88 years). They have attained greater heights by constantly working in the field of architecture. The new-age women architects have achieved and inspired most in this field. Two of them are mentioned below.
Anupama Kundoo from Pune did her graduation from J.J. School of Architecture, Mumbai in 1989 and completed her Ph.D. degree from the TU Berlin.
She commenced her practice in 1990 with an intense determination in material research to avoid damage to the environment that is caused by the building construction. Her projects incorporate a unique character and are energy-efficient in terms of their approach and design, after undergoing much research and experimentation. She is professionally known for her cost-effective and sustainable buildings. Her works deserved and received several mentions globally, and in 2013, she was honored by the ‘ArcVision’ an international prize for women in Architecture. Some of her works are mentioned below.
Ar.Trupti Doshi, The Auroma Group, Pondicherry
Ar. Trupti Doshi, an architect based out of Mumbai and currently practicing in Pondicherry, is known for her ecological way of approach towards buildings. Her designs include various experiments on eco-friendly building materials. Also, acclaimed are her intriguing lectures about sustainability, smart cities, hidden geometry in nature, and many such interesting topics.
She is also an inspiration for fellow architects, students, freshers, environmentalists, and landscape architects through her TEDx talks. Practicing as an architect, she has involved herself in various design projects of residential, commercial, semi-urban sustainable campuses, and so on. Earlier days of career she worked as a chief co-architect of Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, where she was a part of ‘Sharanam – Institute for Rural transformation’. She gained significant recognition as the youngest female architect to work in the team. Some of her works are listed below.
Being closely encountered by these two women architects, it has always been inspiring for me to read their histories and follow their works. It is the dream of every ‘budding’ female architect to grab an opportunity to show their capabilities to the real world. It is endearing to see many female graduates in the current scenario setting up their own work platforms to design and showcase their works. On the other hand, in a typical architectural firm, the position of female architects can also be improved by giving equal importance and opportunities as other male architects working under the same roof.