Architecture is a discipline that has traditionally been dominated by men, with women struggling to break into the field and make their mark. The number of women-driven architecture firms in India is on a rise, a good time to relook at the notions and critique the role of gender in the field of architecture as a design-driven profession.
Architecture: Insights into a Male-Dominated Industry, sheds light on the gender imbalance in the practice of architecture and design, which has historically been male-dominated. The documentary features interviews with several women architects and designers who express their everyday negotiations and struggles in a profession where women are often overlooked and not given their deserved value. The documentary produced by DW Documentary shines a light on this issue and highlights the challenges and opportunities facing women architects today. Its main theme is the obstacles faced by women in establishing themselves in the field of architecture, as well as the obstacles they encounter once they are in it.
The documentary highlights the importance of mentorship and support networks for women architects, as well as the need for greater diversity and inclusion in the industry as a whole. The women discuss that when design teams are more diverse, they bring a wider range of experiences, perspectives, and ideas to the table. However, it is important to understand that achieving greater gender diversity in architecture is not just a matter of adding more women to design teams. It also implies addressing the systemic biases and barriers that have prevented women from fully participating in the profession. This includes challenges such as the gender pay gap, lack of mentorship opportunities, and limited representation in leadership positions.
One of the key takeaways from the documentary is the importance of having access to role models and advocates can make a big difference in helping women navigate the challenges of the profession and build successful careers. In addition, support networks can help women architects to connect and share experiences and strategies for overcoming barriers. This also brings a change in the under-representation of women in key leadership positions. When women are in leadership roles, they can help to shape the culture of the profession and create more inclusive workplaces. This can lead to greater opportunities for women architects to advance in their careers and make meaningful contributions to the profession. The documentary also unearths some of the reasons behind the gender imbalance in architecture, such as systemic biases in hiring and promotion, as well as the lack of representation of women in leadership positions.
The women architects very fairly point out that the lack of gender diversity in architecture is not just a social issue, but a design issue as well. The field of architecture is tasked with creating buildings and spaces that are functional, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing, and a lack of diversity in the profession can lead to narrow perspectives and limited design solutions. Innovative design solutions and a greater understanding of the needs and desires of different user groups are only possible when there is an equal and equivocal representation of both women and men. A diverse design team can also help to ensure that buildings and spaces are designed with inclusivity in mind, taking into account the needs of people of all genders, races, ages, and abilities. By addressing issues of gender bias and inequality, the field of architecture can become more inclusive, innovative, and sustainable. It underscores the positive impact this significant step can have on design outcomes.
In addition to addressing issues of gender diversity, the documentary explores broader ideas about the future of architecture. One of these themes is the importance of sustainability and the need for architects to design buildings and spaces that are environmentally responsible. This is an area where women architects have been at the forefront, with many leading the way in designing sustainable and eco-friendly buildings.
Architecture: Insights into a Male-Dominated Industry leaves you with important food for thought and raises some critical questions about gender equality and diversity in the field of architecture. It says away from more structural and systematic issues of inequality like the lack of facilities, onsite issues, etc., also the representation of women from all diaspora felt a little lacking in the film. It is a well-informed film and features compelling interviews with women architects who offer valuable insights into practice from the eyes of women in this profession. It was very well received by critics, professionals, and viewers alike, as a very “candid and eye-opening look at the reality of working in a male-dominated industry”.
Op-ed: Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated? (2016) Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Available at: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html
Architecture: Insights into a male-dominated industry | DW documentary (2022) YouTube. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFAxt-a6b_M (Accessed: April 23, 2023).