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    Women in Architecture

    Susan Surface Mar 22 '09 40

    Why are there so few women in architecture? According to Yale School of Architecture's Dean, it's because women have families.

    Do architects of all genders not face work/life balance conflicts?

    Does the hours-to-pay-ratio typical of architecture not pose a problem to architects of all genders?

    Do all women want families? Are all women even physically capable of having them? What about parents of all genders who adopt and foster?

    Are there really "few" women in architecture? Or does this observation mostly pertain to those architects whom the elite members of the profession mutually consider the "top" of the profession? Will this remain true when those of us who have graduated in more gender-balanced classes have earned the experience to lead major firms?

    Is architecture lagging behind other professions in accommodating people with children by providing flex-time, telecommuting, paid parental leave, childcare, and retraining for those re-entering the workforce after having taken time off to parent? Or is the situation comparable across various fields?

    (Wouldn't sensible parental leave policies and childcare provisions benefit parents of all genders? Wouldn't sensible healthcare access benefit all people, regardless of parental status?)

    ...Are women simply bad travelers?

    As an educator and employer, what are you doing to address gender disparity in academia and the workplace? What solutions do you propose, and how are you working toward implementing them?

     

     
    • 40 Comments

    • TED
      Mar 22, 09 9:37 am

      following on with his logic... Stern must believe the reason that there are less blacks in architecture is because they are all consumed in basketball?

      TED
      Mar 22, 09 9:53 am

      i actually think less women is because on principal, the profession is structured on being advacerial [contractually] between owner - contractor - architect. I think men are dumb, and just go along for the ride as sheep - women on the other hand are more intelligent and see that these forms of relationship are chronic to ones day to day physical and mental well being and choose to develop there skill outside of the prescribed profession.

      who in their right mind would want work in architecture under the contractural obligations and arrangements agreed upon by the AIA?

      SurfaceS
      Mar 22, 09 9:58 am

      The moratorium on the racist & sexist commentary on my blog starts RIGHT NOW.

      This is not a space where it's acceptable to deploy insults against people of color even when trying to point out underrepresentation in architecture, nor to berate any gender.

      Race and gender both need to be discussed and acted upon but - at least here - please do it in a respectful way.

      TED
      Mar 22, 09 10:30 am

      I think the stern conclusion you posted is EXCEPTIONALLY SEXIST in its understanding of the issue and my response to it extends STERNS presumed thesis[in an obviously - cynical way!]

      my second point is that the contacts our developed creates exceptional adversarial conditions to work in -

      i participated in a riba worshop on the issue [spoke of the nature of contracts / practice and relationship to gender/race] and you could look at the research Why Do Women Leave Architecture? to answer your question and get off your high horse!

      b3tadine[sutures]
      Mar 22, 09 10:39 am

      The "choice" as posited or implied by Stern is a false dichotomy.

      Every single one of us has to deal with the compromises inherent with trying to balance two seemingly opposing forces. I struggle with them, and I don't have a family. I struggle with the opposing forces of religion and the secular life. I have struggled with health versus professional ambition. And I struggle with the creative versus wage earning, pragmatic elements of me.

      Struggles, not choices, and something tells me they won't soon die.

      SurfaceS
      Mar 22, 09 11:26 am

      TED, yes, I posted the video because it is a display of sexism in full effect. The questions in my original post are questions that I think "bigthink.com" should have asked as follow-up, or that I would use to interrogate/critique what was said in the interview, not questions to which I haven't formed any ideas about the answers!

      I have actively worked in anti-oppression activism for the past twelve years (with fluctuations in the amount of direct action engaged, but always to some degree) and I do pay attention to these texts when they appear. I read "Why Do Women Leave Architecture?" when it was published circa 2004 along with other comparable studies and journalistic pieces.

      In my comment, I was disagreeing with the way in which you insulted men by calling them "dumb" and "sheeplike," in contrast with women who are "more intelligent." Beyond the obvious unfairness to men, it is, in fact, a known and often-criticized form of "benevolent sexism" to put women on such a pedestal. Like more overt forms of sexism, this is a manifestation of essentialism that contributes to oppression.

      I was also calling you out on the flippant tone with which you addressed the disproportionate underrepresentation of people of color in academia and professional practice. It's totally possible to address this concern, and even to speculate on what someone like Dean Stern might say (which is honestly, unfair until they have actually said it) without re-stating, and thereby reinforcing, specific stereotypes.

      Your engagement with the RIBA conversation on race and gender, and bringing in your knowledge of contracts and practice, was genuinely productive and constructive... and with RIBA you confronted both of these issues in a respectful manner, so that leaves no doubt you're clearly capable of doing so. Obviously I'm in agreement with you about the "adversarial conditions" of the profession, but like the RIBA studies themselves say - this has a negative impact on people of all genders.

      I'm not asking anyone to refrain from discussing these topics by any means, otherwise I wouldn't post such blogs. There are all kinds of places where you won't be challenged on how you speak of others, but this... is not one of those places!

      TED
      Mar 22, 09 12:19 pm

      Susan, I apologize for my flippant language - those who have power, explicitly or subliminally, generally institute laws and rules that can make change. in the case of AIA/RIBA - that is [but not exclusively] old school-blind-men of non-colour[ok, now don’t take it that I am slamming persons with disabilities or age]. they need to recognize the state of the profession and to question the status quo and take action. till then, I will unapologetically call them 'sheep' as they blindly follow the fodder, ¥€$ ! [yes, very not correct]

      one sees many new formulations of practice evolving which are not based upon the rules of order nor adhere to prescribed practice protocol - generally not formed with explicit intention to be overtly equitable or fair with regard to sex or race - but they are based on a simple model of human relationships. the models are there for 'the sheep' to redefine the profession - they just have to open their eyes!

      SurfaceS
      Mar 22, 09 12:42 pm

      There are problems with the use of disability-as-metaphor, but it looks like you anticipated that. (It's a common saying that if someone has to preface or disclaim a statement with "I don't mean to be offensive, but..." they are probably going to say something offensive!) So I'll just leave it at.... you knew better. There are other ways to describe!

      As far as the rest of it goes - I don't have a problem with analogizing people in power who refuse to address power imbalances as "sheeplike" - but this characterization shouldn't be extended to all men in architecture, as it seemed to be in its original use. When referring to those who refuse to acknowledge or address the problem, then sure.

      Now, to be fair, while I obviously take issue with the Dean's assessment of why women leave architecture, I would not go so far as to characterize him as a sheep or anything that simple. At least at Yale, we have enjoyed the addition of many excellent new faculty to the school, many of whom are women. I presume many of them were hired or proposed as hires around the same time he recorded this statement (late 2007). So I do not want to insinuate that it's a total one-sided wash around here, and thereby contribute to the invisibility of women in architecture. These things are all happening at the same time... it's complex, like b3ta said.

      TED
      Mar 22, 09 1:29 pm

      ok - i did say 'not exclusively' with the sheep thing - and i am not in anyway saying - 'i dont mean to be offensive' with regard to men thing - i just didnt want you to add more groups to my evilness - but, ok -the term 'blind' is mean to say 'ignoring conditions' and 'old school' is perhaps meant to suggest those who believe the profession is exclusive to those who earn their keep if they are allowed to participate - enter a practice from a bottom manuvering their way though the hierarchy political system of a big firm. [i perhaps used those terms to spark more of a fire in your eyes....i think they are burning, sorry]

      power and laws go beyond the AIA/RIBA but is within building codes, trade associations, architectural and construction acts prescribing who and how one must be educated and act. while of course one 'idenity' can speak on behalf of others, very fairly, it is those minute suttleties that only can be understood by those who engage with the issues directly - do you think if one of Obama's perfect children were in any way challenge physically or mentally, would he ever had jestured about special olympics?

      we in britain and academia now are hands off at speaking or writing about 'identies' within any way we write or speak - of course, my comments often on archinect are written in a way to make a debate and arent intended to be correct or banal -

      i am writing a paper now on 'public housing' in chicago not focusing on what would be the more normative issues associated with it - and while there are few scholarly books on it, one of those books, American Project, concludes the failure of public housing was not a result of the dominate racist ideology that was embedded in all forms of commission and policy but rather the social idealism at the time - when you read primary resources at the time i question why he made this bizarre conclusion if he was just avoiding issue of race and bias.

      archiwhat
      Mar 22, 09 1:45 pm

      well, Zaha doesn't have a family.

      randomized
      Mar 22, 09 3:26 pm

      just love those political-correctness discussions...

      Erin WilliamsErin Williams
      Mar 22, 09 3:58 pm

      While Stern does go too far (the assumption that this applies to all women, and to no men), there is a kernal of something in there. In our society, women having children is different than men having children. Is this right? no. Is this fair? no. Does it exist? yes.

      Men are expected to be present for the birth of their child---and go back to work the next day, or the next week. The extent and way in which women are expected to contribute to a family is more harmful to a professional career than the way which men are expected to contribute. The traditional way that men are expected to contribute is financially, which gives them additional drive towards accomplishment in their careers. Even in contemporary alternative family structures, there is a great deal of emphasis on female responsibility. In single-parent households, the single parent is more likely to be the female parent. Yes, single fathers exist, two-father households exist, and those situations should be given the same consideration as female-responsibility situations, but that's just where the question is coming from. The question was about women leaving architecture, and that led us back to this, not the other way around, so I'm willing to grant a bit of latitude for the greater emphasis on what is the more common situation.

      There is nothing wrong with acknowledging this as an obstacle, I do not fault Stern for that at all. My problem with what he says is that he stops there. He does not bother to ask: Is this problem not the actual problem at all, but a symptom of a larger societal issue? Why does this seem to apply more to architecture than to other professions? Is it our place to correct this, and if so, how to we go about it?

      For a guy in charge of such a prestigious institution usually associated with very thorough investigations and probing questions, this was bewilderingly topical.

      WonderK
      Mar 22, 09 5:33 pm

      My question is, why the fuss? Is this supposed to be surprising? New information? Or, perhaps, "controversial"?

      I think it would be more surprising to me if an older, white man of Stern's experience were to come out and say something actually progressive, something to imply that he had given a great amount of thought to the inequalities of gender and race in our profession. But the guy is designing Bush's Presidential Library ... what do we expect, exactly?

      David CuthbertDavid Cuthbert
      Mar 22, 09 6:28 pm

      I am cautious about those that broad stroke the low numbers of women in schools to any one particular problem, case in point a desire to raise and have a family. I agree that Stern's comments have illuminated the historical precedent of a patriarchal presence in the field of architecture, however to use that as a filter of determining the situation at hand is erroneous.



      SurfaceS
      Mar 22, 09 6:30 pm

      randomized - I do love these discussions. We all have a responsibility to make positive changes, including in language. I have used some pretty offensive/clueless/hurtful words myself (and still do, I'm sure) and consider it helpful when someone takes the time to point it out. I've found that being called out on derogatory language is a prompt to be not only a more conscientious but also a more accurate and descriptive writer who can avoid relying on tropes like "blindness" and "deafness" to describe things that are neither... this is always a gain in vocabulary, not a loss.

      SurfaceS
      Mar 22, 09 6:34 pm

      rationalist -
      "Motherhood" as the problem is just too simple an answer, still. Women, and men, and anyone else, leave the profession for all kinds of reasons which are probably better grouped under "Work/life balance," of which "motherhood" or even "parenthood" is only part. As those RIBA studies linked by TED show, the responses varied and included a lot more than mothering:

      Low pay
      Unequal pay
      Long working hours
      Inflexible/unfamily friendly working hours
      Sidelining
      Limited areas of work
      Glass ceiling
      Stressful working conditions
      Protective paternalism preventing development of experience
      Macho culture
      Sexism
      Redundancy and or dismissal
      High litigation risk and high insurance costs
      Lack of returner training
      More job satisfaction elsewhere

      As is often noted on this website, most of these are pertinent to far more practicing architects than those who are women. Some of these (glass ceiling, sidelining) in the case of women, can absolutely be correlated to the bigger societal issues that make specifically the motherhood/career balance difficult. But even having no children myself and no plans to ever do so, I can empathize with everything on that list except for "lack of returner training" (if that means what I think it does, it's possibly the only one that is super-specific to people who take extensive parental leave, though technically it could apply to any leave) as reasons I have considered when weighing my options about entering in the first place, and how long to stick around.

      SurfaceS
      Mar 22, 09 6:35 pm

      wk-
      Why the fuss? It's actually not surprising or new information for me. But it's one thing to have an abstracted understanding that women have a high attrition rate for various reasons, and rather different knowing that someone who is a large and influential presence in your daily environment seems to accept this as a biological fact germane to women alone. As rationalist pointed out, it's also alarming because "he stops there." I do think it merits further ongoing attention and clarification; whether it's new and shocking is irrelevant, as it's still obviously an issue.

      That said, while the speech is what it is and is quite clear, it is also an edited video, and we don't know what was left out. This particular statement is troublesome because the assumptions revealed by words do affect us negatively. But, maybe better questions than "why are there so few women in architecture?" would garner more satisfactory answers. Maybe not. I think that's part of why I was inclined to post a series of questions, to which rationalist's would make a great addition. I think there is more productive potential in interrogating this, than to conjecture or accuse about how much someone thinks/has thought about a given topic. Maybe I should just seek out the opportunity to ask further questions directly, if only in fairness!
      b3tadine[sutures]
      Mar 22, 09 7:19 pm

      Another point that might be worth noting is how he started to answer the question. He started out saying; "Wow, I'm gonna..." one could almost finish his sentence; ... get in trouble for saying this, but..." He knew what he was saying, knew it would be controversial, and knew a debate would ensue. It's just galling that he fails to comprehend that his comments could be perceived as another brick in the wall in the barrier that many are trying to overcome.

      I sincerely detest, that whenever a subject like this is discussed, people that have little or nothing to add, throw a smoke bomb, like "ooo, it's the PC police," and then run for the hills. It's cowardice.

      liberty bell
      Mar 22, 09 8:23 pm

      Great post, rationalist, and that's exactly the problem: for Stern, who is on the leading edge of academia for our profession, one would hope that there would be more interest in exploring how the problem could be addressed. Instead he comes off as a someone who is secretly grinning to himself because he benefits from the lack of competition brought about by keeping things status quo.

      I've said this loudly and often when the topic of women in architectural practice is brought up: The workplace policies that benefit women are the same exact policies that benefit families. If we want to keep breeding new architects*, we need to make the workplace friendly for parents of both genders. This would also benefit the child-free by helping everyone achieve the work-life balance that is so lacking in our profession (as well as in other high-achieving professions, yes).



      *That is, breeding more of the brilliant, sensitive, design-savvy youngsters that we architects invariably spawn, right, my fellow architect-parents? ;-)

      randomized
      Mar 22, 09 9:05 pm

      b3ta, Let's all keep barking up the same tree here. Of course everybody is for equal rights for everyone etcetera. That's what is funny in discussions like these. Everybody agrees in essence, but emotions reach boiling point within no time. I think what Stern was saying was more of an observation than a (dis-)qualification. But as often you can not say those kind of things because people assume that you, by expressing this observation, are agreeing with it.

      WonderK
      Mar 22, 09 10:57 pm

      SS, that's fair. And I can see how being in an environment that he influences so regularly is a cause for alarm. I guess my response to this whole thing is, I feel that people like Stern may have - willingly or unwillingly - been part of the problem in the first place, so I am unmoved to learn that he's not trying to be part of the solution. Which is unfortunate.

      adora
      Mar 23, 09 8:18 pm

      It's no doubt that our society still put the responsibility of children on women. Nobody questioned Obama's ability to giggle between work and family, while Palin was repeatedly criticized!

      France offer one of the best maternity program in the world, but I don't see any more female architects in France than other countries. The "children" and "travel" factors are not uniquely architects' problems. So it is an invalid argument.

      There must be a cocktail of reasons worthy of a PhD study. I can think of one that is not so negative - it is simply because women who are good in architecture are also good at doing other things!

      It happens in math and science as well. Men are generally more specialized in their specific skills while women's intelligence carry over to other fields. (from anthropologist Helen Fisher's "The First Sex".) Maybe some women are just frustrated with the long hours and low pay, so they moved on to other fields on their own free will?

      So, that's my non-external explanation. But I suspect it only account for less than 20% of the reasons.

      adora
      Mar 23, 09 8:29 pm

      I just remembered another thing.

      There is an article about partnership in Psychology Today (May 2008). They interviewed Robert Venturi and his wife & partner Denise Scott Brown. They do everything together. (aww...) Scott Brown was asked why her name is often neglected. She says that there is a culture of "one man genius" in the business.

      Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
      Mar 24, 09 12:15 am
      Droselle
      Mar 24, 09 12:53 am

      Hello Susan, first time posting on your blog (and is actually is in two parts.)

      Great question. This is a discussion that I encounter often with my female classmates who address the topic of motherhood, often as a point of concern in regarding their future. Its a point that I attempt to be empathetic towards because as much as I support the deconstruction of gender roles, I find myself leaning towards the "traditional" masculine role in my family by pursuing a career. Therefore, that implies that I will not be a stay-at-home father. That must mean my wife, if she was to be an architect (which is very possible in this profession) would have to balance the responsibility of baring a child and pursuing her career. This does not mean however, that there is an obligatory demand for her to stay at home. There are plenty of families that function wonderfully with the aid of a nanny. However, there is a definite added pressure that men, or least I in this scenario, would not have to face as much as my wife would. In just articulating this scenario, I can sense the tension that arises from my example. My personal scenario may arouse some contention (I'm imagining a few people from my women studies class who would have quite a bit to say about this), but it is an honest approach that I am considering. And I don't think my scenario is what needs to be addressed (which may be more fitting to be critiqued in my women studies class (or maybe it doesn't!)), it's the difficult position that women are put in.

      Droselle
      Mar 24, 09 12:53 am

      The fact is that the role of gender plays a significant role in architecture, that may not be as apparent in other careers, that forces my female friends to think about their future intertwined with the gender relationship to their occupation that, if I can make a generalization, my male friends do not have to think about, at least as much. The question of fairness almost seems to arise yet their is not an authority to argue with. It is a situation where the "oppression," if this can be considered oppression (since their is not a distinct oppressor), is not apparent to me, as a man, yet is very clear to a woman. That is why I do not think it is inappropriate what Stern said as a response. In fact, I think that it is a sober reality of the profession. He also prefaced his comment by saying that it is a very complicated issue. Therefore, if I can infer, he did not limit his answer to the responsibility of motherhood as the sole reason as some commenters have suggested but as a truth of the profession. Yes there are exceptions, but even the women that do not have struggle with this issue are forced to consider the possibility of motherhood.
      Javier ArbonaJavier Arbona
      Mar 24, 09 9:42 am

      "The basis for the perpetuation of this relationship of domination does not really reside (or at least not principally) in one of the more visible places in which it is exercised - in other words, within the domestic sphere, on which some feminist debate has concentrated its attention - but in locations such as the school, or the state, which function as places for the elaboration and imposition of principles of domination which go on to be exercised even within the most private of worlds. Recognition of this fact opens up a huge field of action for feminist struggles, which are thus called upon to take an original and decisive place within political struggles against all forms of domination." Pierre Bourdieu, On Male Domination

      archicleveland
      Mar 24, 09 11:01 am

      what is interesting to me in stern's response to the question was the complete disinterest in pointing out any possible solutions to the problem. the architecture profession has been incredibly inflexible in terms of alternative work styles that can allow anyone wanting to be more involved with their family (male or female) to continue their career. the belief is that everyone must be in the office 9-5 everyday or else their cannot do their work. i find this to be entirely untrue and that a bit of retooling and rethinking about how and architecture offices function is necessary. working from home, part-time work, etc., are totally legitimate ways to work and contribute but are presently seen as second class employees. the standard work style that continues today was established far before the architecture schools were 50-50 male-female and needs to be re-analyzed.

      liberty bell
      Mar 25, 09 9:59 am
      That must mean my wife, if she was to be an architect (which is very possible in this profession) would have to balance the responsibility of baring a child and pursuing her career...However, there is a definite added pressure that men, or least I in this scenario, would not have to face as much as my wife would.

      Droselle, I'm trying to refrain from spewing profanities at you right now so I can try to understand just what exactly those two sentences mean. Why, if you marry a woman and have children with her, is it entirely on HER shoulders to "balance the responsibility" of parenthood and career? If you choose to father a child it is your responsibility to be an active father to that child whether you have a career or not, whether you're an architect or not, whether you end up incapacitated in a wheelchair or sued by an angry client or deciding to pursue the priesthood or win the Rome Prize or chucking it all to live in a cave. Your gender has absolutely nothing to do with it: once you are a parent, your parental responsibilities will ALWAYS have to be balanced with your other life decisions, whatever they may be.

      I honestly don't understand what you are saying, and suspect that your notion of gender roles are so deep-seated that you can't even see them. It takes two to make a baby, can you at least acknowledge that?
      liberty bell
      Mar 25, 09 10:01 am
      The fact is that the role of gender plays a significant role in architecture, that may not be as apparent in other careers

      And this too: what?! How does gender play any more significant a role in architecture than it does in dermatology or accounting or farming or being a UPS driver or any of the vast majority of careers in this world?
      Emilio
      Mar 25, 09 6:37 pm

      Javier, I find this quote from the Bourdieu article even more pertinent.

      Male domination is so rooted in our collective unconscious that we no longer even see it. It is so in tune with our expectations that it becomes hard to challenge it. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we work to dissolve the apparently obvious and explore the symbolic structures of the androcentric unconscious that still exists in men and women alike.

      I might even modify the first sentence to read "White male domination"...yes, even at this late stage. In fact, we don't even see it anymore. During the primaries I ran a one person attempt here at Archinect to show some of the people who were berating Hillary Clinton that their language was in fact sexist, full of rage at and hatred of women. I couldn't convince any of them that to use vicious, derogatory, and even degrading terms to anyone, much less someone who came close to becoming their President, was raging sexism: all I got was "No, it's not sexist to call her those names, I'm just doing it because I just hate her, not all women". I don't expect much more from the twenty-somethings here, but I do expect better from some of the people who should know better.

      The fact is, white men still for the most part rule the roost. We should be puzzled and outraged that when we, as architects, sit in a job meeting, most of those participating are men and more often than not they are white men: instead, we barely notice. But then we look at the people that govern us in Congress and the House (not, finally, in the White House), the heads of banks, corporations, Wall Street, all the talking heads we've been seeing through this economic crisis and we see that they are (still) mostly white men in suits (one of the first speech bubbles that caught my eye at the top of that "Why do women leave architecture?" PDF was "Too many suits"). And what is Stern, sitting there smugly and pompously, but another suit with a gold tie? Why would anyone expect explanation or real understanding from him?

      So Susan, one answer to your first question above "Why are there so few women in architecture?" might be "It's not just architecture", still and not yet.

      -

      SurfaceS
      Mar 26, 09 2:46 am

      Agreed, Emilio. I have added a couple of new questions to my original post to reflect this - it's something that occurred to me, too.

      I do want to take some issue with what has been said here about Stern, though. I think that simply accusing him on the basis of the 1.5 minute video is too simplistic and also unfair, as I said at least once above. While I obviously find his response to be problematic (my initial response to it was indignation - an instinctive response that, even having thought about it in a more measured way, I want to remember not to devalue) we also have to take it into context.

      Maybe his response was actually more nuanced, but it was cut short by the video editors. We don't know. The question itself wasn't asked in a very thoughtful or intelligent manner, and it wasn't followed up with questions that might get deeper into the topic.

      As a student at the school he leads, I can see some definite gender-related problems at the school, including anecdotal evidence, not the least of which includes the difficulty one would have as a parent attending school (though a few people are doing it.)

      Yet I cannot imagine that he "hasn't thought about" this (even if some of us might be unsatisfied with the conclusions), and it is untrue that he has "done nothing" in recent times. In fact, a few days before someone sent me this video, I had actually written him a thank you letter for bringing so many inspiring new faculty and guest speakers to the school, and stating an appreciation that so many are women. I personally have no idea if their hiring had anything to do with wanting to help address the school's gender disparity, or if he (or someone, with his approval) simply valued these faculty members' work and wanted them to be part of our academic community. It's almost more hopeful if the latter is the case. The situation is more complex than something that can be satisfactorily addressed by simplistically accusing, dismissing, and insulting him. Furthermore, accusations and insults don't necessarily serve as the most productive ways of engaging in dialogue and getting anyone to think about important issues.

      The school is having a "Gender In the Workplace" panel discussion in a few weeks (it has been in the works for a long time as part of a Professional Practice course - not a specific response to this video). It would be great if this event has the opportunity to be constructive as well as informative.

      SurfaceS
      Mar 26, 09 3:44 am

      I also wanted to include Javier Arbona's blog posting about this topic:
      http://javier.est.pr/2009/03/24/robert-am-stern-on-women-in-architecture/

      As well as the news post and comments:
      http://archinect.com/news/article.php?id=86926_0_24_15_M


      ...archiving and roundup, you know!

      Emilio
      Mar 26, 09 9:31 am

      Susan, point taken, I really shouldn't equate Stern with some of the other people I talked about above, not solely on the basis of an out of context clip.

      Javier ArbonaJavier Arbona
      Mar 26, 09 10:44 am

      Emilio, I totally agree with your comments above... The very first question about all this is why go to the white, male dean in the suit to ask HIM why 'so few women in architecture' instead of asking the women! There is a good dose of male privilege embedded in the very rationale of the people that make this kind of video, and to that extent, I can't fault Stern for being put in a position that's already compromised.

      It's also very worthwhile, as you point out, to question why male domination is so pervasive that comments like Stern's can be taken among a community as something so natural and even reasonable. I think it's partly due to academia's own self-congratulating exercises that leads students to believe that they are studying in a space that is liberated and more advanced than the society's spaces-at-large.

      SurfaceS
      Mar 26, 09 11:26 am

      Thanks for reminding us of that, Javier.

      If you search for "architecture" on that particular website, there are precisely zero women who have been interviewed on the topic of architecture, let alone the specific topic of gender concerns in architecture.

      http://bigthink.com/ideas/search/?q=architecture

      Droselle
      Mar 28, 09 12:12 am

      I just saw the rebuttal to my comment today, but I realize that the conversation has flowed just fine afterwards. I do not want to argue at all, especially on someone else's blog, however I will make the statement that I do not believe my comments were as flippant as you indicate in you're response LibertyBell. I would be happy to further discuss this on my own page or in a PM.

      And to briefly add to what has been commented, I find the quote that Emilio posted fascinating that articulates well the broader scope of the issue. Thank you for posting that.

      mantaray
      Mar 29, 09 6:53 pm

      Very interesting conversation here. I almost hesitate to post, because the discussion is over my head in many ways and I am frankly afraid of saying something offensive. But I agree with many others that many of the things that drive women away from architecture are the things that drive people away from architecture in general. It is, however, still easier to pursue a " long hours / low pay " type of job when, as rationalist mentioned and droselle freely illustrated, the male half of a heterosexual parental duo is still expected to be free to pursue only his career and the female half is expected to take on much more responsibility.

      That said, the reason I personally come back to whenever I consider leaving the profession is that it is very difficult to find opportunities to help people of modest to low to non-existant means. The way architecture is structured in this country is as a service to the wealthy; I don't mind working for the wealthy, but I would much rather be able to use my abilities to design good, healthy, happy environments for those who can't afford that opportunity themselves. I am still looking for the best way to be able to provide this service, and it's deeply sad to me that it's a fringe aspect of the profession in this country. I wonder how many others struggle with this? I don't hear many people discussing it in my immediate circle, sadly.

      On a side note : I've often wondered why you don't see many female architecture professors?? Any thoughts?

      ballyhoo
      Apr 2, 09 2:44 pm

      i'm becoming more convinced statements like bob stern's is a result of the united states either undervaluing domestic work or valuing domestic work differently than work for monetary pay. the system, as codified in family and employment law, maintains that raising a family, keeping a home, should not be paid work, but a duty of marriage associated primarily with women, which reinforce male-dominance in the workplace.

      ballyhoo
      Apr 2, 09 2:53 pm

      oh another thing... statutes like Family and Medical Leave Act were passed to basically value domestic caregiving, making it easier to integrate family and work, but they apply only to companies of 50 or more. i can see this as an obvious problem for many architectural practices, since they are generally businesses that employ fewer workers on the whole.

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