50/50 Campaign: Women & the Profession

Mason White

This seemed worth a discussion.

Building Design posts a "snapshot" of the profession today (in tht UK) with 86% male and 14 female. (Further still, 7% minority).

they write:
These faces represent a cross-section of our architectural society in 2005 — a shocking and unacceptable 86% male.

Look at their faces. They are all great architects, but it is man, after man, after man. So today we launch a campaign to change this picture. We are asking every practice to commit to a short charter of basic working practices which will give women a better chance in architecture. So if you lead your practice, make a statement of intent. If you are an employee, lobby your bosses. Tell them BD's 50/50 Campaign has support from government, architecture and equal opportunities regulation. Turning the situation around will take years, but making a commitment to change can be achieved much faster. Help us reach our target and end this shame for good.

Does this have the potential to change the increasingly male dominated profession of Architecture? What are additional ways ... or is it a lost cause?

Jan 8, 05 9:18 pm
Mason White
Jan 8, 05 9:27 pm

I had never heard the term, "Chartered Accountant". That seems pretty low too so I Googled it:

"The ACA stands for “Associate Chartered Accountant”. But it might as well stand for, “Do pretty much any job in the world of business”. "

In terms of architecture, I don't think it's a lost cause. I've been in this profession for just 9 years and feel as though I work with women more and more all the time. There is definately potential for change.

Jan 8, 05 10:29 pm

i wonder if they realize how few 'persons of color' are also on that image?

from AIA web site, this side of the pond showing 20% licensed architects in 2002 [up from 14%]. in uk the term 'architects' only considered the qualified lot.

Full discussion of survey on aia web site .

riba did a nice piece on why women leave architecture.....

Jan 8, 05 11:03 pm
liberty bell

This is a tough subject. It's hard for me to believe there really are so few women in the field, as my schooling was all 50-50 and my student ratios over the last few years have also been close to 50-50. I work in a firm that until very recently has always been at least 50-50 (and a high minority ratio, too. White males were definitely the minority in our office for awhile!). Then I look at the list of partners in a huge firm in our town and see that out of 46 partners, only two are female, both in interiors. Wow.

But I can't help but feel that this must be a similar situation in other professional fields. I don't see how the types of "basic working practices" mentioned above wouldn't benefit professional women in any field, I'm not sure there are any changes spedific to architecture.

And further, the types of cchanges I think are important for WOMEN are basically important to PARENTS: family-friendly policies like flex time, good health insurance, no weekend work, etc.

But let's face it, when people have kids, it tends to be the mom who loses track of her career path for awhile. At least in architecture the technology changes slowly enough that a few years of not practicing wouldn't leave you unable to get back up to speed upon coming back to the office.

Jan 8, 05 11:10 pm

I've gotta agree with Liberty. Of all the firms I've even visited, women have held much more than a meager 14% or even 20% role. My current employer has even promoted women for the sole reason of their gender.

What gets me is that we as architects feel some need to "diversify" our profession. I have no problem with women or minorities in the profession, just let everyone stand on their own because of merit. I have never worked for an employer who would pass over a better employee because that person was a woman or minority.

As long as we are on this topic we can always talk about why I get less of a bonus or raise because I'm not married or have children. I don't doubt discrimination in many architecture firms but there are equally as many or more that do not. I don't see any reason why a woman cannot excel in architecture. We have bigger issues to tackle than worry about making sure there is a 50/50 representation by gender in architecture.

Jan 9, 05 12:27 am

While it may be precedent for women to lose track of their career when raising a family, I believe that too is changing. In the u.k. anyway, the graph above indicates that 45.9% of the working population are women. I have more and more friends and family that are stay at home dads. One buddy of mine stayed home with his daughter and got his license at the same time. Given the opportunity, most men I know would gladly stay home with their child. The bigger issue may be disparity in pay---it makes sense for a one income household to have the larger paycheck coming in.

I've gotton less of a raise too because I didn't have family and was told such by my boss when I asked why. I've also been told to hire women "because they work harder." Discrimination exists in all walks of life. I can't think of any good reason explaining why the female architect percentage is so low. Maybe that link from TED on why women leave the profession has some clues.

What are our "bigger issues to tackle"? That sounds interesting.

Jan 9, 05 1:43 am

what is with you people saying that you don't really feel there are fewer women in the profession? just because you personally have experienced work environments that are gender balanced does not mean that it is so everywhere.
i wont be getting that bonus either because i see how it would be possible to have children, raise them, and continue my career.

Jan 9, 05 12:00 pm

i reall wish archinect had a post editing function....

Jan 9, 05 12:01 pm

surprise! surprise! architecture is the rich peoples country club? how shocking!

its really not an isssue about being a man or woman or minority or majority. rather its about people who do not have the financial resources to weather the storm that is Architecture. In the picture in the first post, David Adjaye may be a black man but he is for sure NOT a broke black man. Etnicity and economic (dis)advantage are not related. Until people realize this critical didtinction we will be wasting efforts going after the wrong problem.

Architects go into debt when they go to school, they get paid some $25-50,000, are asked to work late and on weekends, dont get childcare support at their firms, they barely get decent insurance for themselves much less their is it any wonder that it would be a diffcult profession for someone with a child or a non-trust-fund-having person?

so the biggest issue to takle is how do you make this profession more economically feasible for the economically disadvantaged? The medical profession and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has some interresting solutions that take an early and proactive role to remedy the situation.

meanwhile the AIA is still spending $200,000 worth of money (or five 4-year scholarships) researching IF a problem even exist and "number crunching" (they are doing another study-see sept 04 arch record or story below) and passing out self referential awards.

AIA to Launch New Diversity Initiative

September 1, 2004

New York-based architect Terrence O’Neal, AIA, has a successful practice, an office overlooking Union Square, and many friends in the business. But he thinks something is very wrong with the profession he loves.

“In terms of diversity, the AIA is about 20 years behind the curve,” says O’Neal, who contributed to a resolution, proposed in June and ratified by the AIA board in September, to help improve poor diversity figures in the notoriously homogenous profession.

The resolution takes a step beyond traditional measures like scholarships, internships and conferences, resorting instead to number crunching. The AIA (with the help of a consultant) hopes to obtain much-needed figures about minority and female access to the profession, helping paint a clearer picture of why so few of these groups enter and stay in architecture, also laying the groundwork for future changes.

“We need to find out what these problems are,” says Elisabeth Casqueiro, Managing Director of Alliances at the AIA, who points to low salaries and long-standing biases as reasons for architecture’s diversity gap , but concedes causes for the issue remain largely a mystery. Outside of cursory data obtained from its Firm Survey- which shows 1% minority membership and 11% female membership- the AIA’s knowledge about minority representation is “remarkably scarce,” according to the resolution, and to several AIA officials, while “the data we have is disconnected and incomplete,” says Ted Landsmark, AIA, head of the AIA Diversity Committee. Meanwhile long-used methods like scholarships seem to have made little headway in reversing the situation, which is very similar to what it was 30 years ago.

The chosen firm will also carry out focus groups to supplement hard numbers with stories, it will explore models in other professions like law and medicine, and compare data with architectural organizations such as the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the National Collegiate Accreditation Board (NCARB), the National Accrediation board (NAB), and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Officials say up to $200,000 could be slated for the project.

Sam Lubell

Jan 9, 05 12:14 pm

and i forget to say @#?! the AIA and NCARB. The two biggest usurious, disconnected and irrelevant professional organizations ever to exist.

those @#?!s charge young architects thousands of dollars to sign up for and take registration tests, sell interns $70 necessary study books, then charge people some $500-700 anually to be part of the AIA! they also take that money and waste it on bankrupt web ventures and booze.

those illegitimate sons of female dogs!

Jan 9, 05 12:41 pm

I'm not sure I see what the Big Deal is with the BD article. If someone is being promoted on their merit, fine. Obviously, outright discrimination should be dealt with, and there are employment tribunals etc, to deal with this. But what is the problem? i've never heard the Nursing profession bemoaning the lack of men in the nursing workplace. So what if there are more men in architecture than women. At the moment, there are more female medical students than men at many universities. Is this possitive or negative situation?

Jan 9, 05 1:09 pm

let me guess dolemite-you are neither a minority or woman and you have a trust fund? its backwater views like yours and a refusal to admit reality, much less confront it that have propagated the problem.

Having more female/ minority medical students than men at many universities did not casually happen overnight.


Jan 9, 05 1:21 pm

The economic and family arguments made above are strong, and probably account for the reason we see fewer women in practice. I'd like to bring up a somewhat different angle, one that is sure to piss a lot a people off. However, I feel like we ought to be brave enough to have a frank discussion.

Whether it is nature or nurture, it is a fairly obvious fact that women and men think and behave quite differently, and to contend that this does not carry over into the fields of architecture and design would be remiss. The old cliche is that men are more "spatially" intelligent and that women are more "socially" intelligent. There are plenty of exceptions, granted.

Boys grow up playing with legos, building forts, playing video games (pre-CAD training), hot-rodding cars, etc., etc... Women grow up with a different set of experiences, to put it lightly. The experiences that boys have growing up prepare them for being an architect in a way that girls can't quite make up for, no matter how many hours of form-Z tutorials or construction seminars they attend.

In practice, women and men make very different yet equally relevent contributions to the design team IMHO. Women, in my experience, are natural organizers, and tend to advance design ideas in a sensitive, consensus-seeking way. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to skip the organizational step and advance design ideas independantly and without consensus, but perhaps in the end with more resolution.

There is a lot more to say, but I'll leave it at that for now.

Jan 9, 05 2:33 pm

There will never be as many women in the profession as men, sorry. Many women want to have children and start families and that takes time away from the career. Its neither good or bad. Its biology. I wish there were more women in architecture.

Noone should ever be hired or promoted for diversity's sake. I guess I value merit and work ethic over diversity. I hope that doesn't make me a bigot.

Jan 9, 05 6:19 pm

you dont get it, do you?

THe issue is not one of purely affirmative action, but an issue of where have all the women gone. Whay is it 50/50 in school and 80/20 in practice. And dont give me that "merit and ethic over diversity" bullshit; women are as hardworking and capable as men in school so why wouldnt they be in offices. So, yes, you are a bigot.

Secondly, this whole crap about women want to have children and start families thing. That is a human desire that happens in other professions too, why would it suddenly be an issue for women in architecture? Why?

"It matters that from the first year of university onwards, the number of women in the profession declines steadily as their careers progress — or fail to. It matters that the reasons they give for quitting are not about the nature of the work but about the nature of the workplace."

Maybe it is because the workplace is full of men like you that claim the reason is "biology not bigotry.

(the ironic things is that all of you readers will probably think that this has to be the voice of a woman. wrong.)

Jan 9, 05 7:47 pm

the whole construction industry, architects, engineers, contractors, etc. are primarily male-dominated fields. most of the people architects communicate with are men. and i don't really know if i want to get involved in an argument over how men and women communicate, but, i think there is something to that.
i mean, i know that i am a piddly intern and don't get a whole lot of respect as it is, but a lot of the time i feel like i have to be hyper-aggressive to be taken as seriously as my male counterparts. and maybe it is just some sort of insecurity that i need to get over, but shit man, i just want to be treated like the dudes. i want to be able to communicate like men do. i don't want to hit some sort of glass ceiling. but i don't want to be thought of as a bitch, and i am not going to quietly sit around if i don't feel like i am getting the same experiences that the men are who are at my same level.
is there anyone else who can relate to this or do i just have issues?

Jan 9, 05 8:32 pm
liberty bell

"Bigger issues?" I wish the AIA would spend more money figuring out how to rectify the fact that some incredibly meager number - like 2% - of the built environment in the US is architected. In the face of becoming an irrelevant profession, I'm far less concerned about the makeup of the people in it.

Jan 9, 05 8:46 pm
liberty bell

stephanie, frankly, a lot of your experience will change as you get older. (I assume you're a recently out of school intern.) In addition to both having more knowledge and being more confident in it, when you hit your mid-30's, men in the profession will realize you've been around awhile and aren't just doing it because it's fun.

Yes, women and men communicate differently, and yes, women and men approach design from different backgrounds - this is often the case, though not always. But I think architecture is ingrained in a lot of us - male or female - from an early age: shanec, I spent my childhood building an adobe fort, digging networks of tunnels in piles of dirt for horny toads to run through, and designing houses in the tall weeds for my Barbies. I tested high in spatial cognizance in 8th grade. There is nothing in my formative upbrining that I have to "make up for" to function in a male-dominated field, because I share a similar way of analyzing the world as anyone in the profession.

lifeform's quote is right on - the issue isn't the work, it's the workplace.

Jan 9, 05 8:55 pm

hmmm. liberty bell.....

do men in your office also hold back and have this enlightingment in their mid 30's that 'they have been around awhile and arent doing it for fun'....or is that a another silly girly thing?

golly. i hope you didnt write what you mean.

Jan 9, 05 10:52 pm

Easy killer. I admire the work of women in our field and I agree women are as hardworking and capable as men. I didn't say otherwise. You don't need to be so defensive. No need for name calling. I was making an honest observation.

Secondly, its not crap, its a fact. You stated it better. It is a human desire, and it doesn't affect just architecture. 3 of the 5 50/50 Charter points attempt to address this(see below). It affects all professions that require the amount of time and training architecture does.

I don't believe that is the only reason there aren't as many women in offices. They may just be too smart to stay in this profession. The workplace is miserable, I can't blame them. I just believe there are other factors outside of bigotry that are playing a role in lack of women. Maybe more conversation and less name calling is in order.

I support the 50/50 Charter 100%.

" The 50/50 Charter

My practice pledges

To recruit, promote, pay and allocate work according to experience and ability alone.
To set out maternity and paternity rights in a written contract for every worker and strive to go beyond the statutory minimum.
To offer flexible working to all employees and retraining for returning parents.
To challenge the long hours culture and monitor working time.
To appoint a practice champion to promote and monitor the charter."

I simply don't like the idea of quotas, that is why I was preaching merit over percentages. The women that have stayed in the profession are doing the best work (Kazuyo Sejima, Hadid, Liz Diller, Billy Tsien). Maybe fostering and promoting the work of talented young female architects would help. Im thinking an annual Women in Architecture issue of Architectural Record. It could begin to generate awareness of the important work being done by women.

By the way, 2.819 million men and 339,000 women in architecture and engineering occupations in the US.

Jan 9, 05 11:01 pm

i agree with liberty that there is no standard upbringing for 'an Architect,' that guarantees that you will be a stellar architect or more successful in the field. I too spent many hours 'designing' houses with dominoes, playing with legos, and had plenty of barbie time.

But if your childhood environment determines your success in a profession, or an affinity for a field, then could someone explain why I've studied architecture, art history, and urbanism after growing up on a farm? far from an art museum, or the suburban/urban dichotomy, or so much as a frank lloyd wright house. so shanec, your idea about the way little boys & girls play making them better or worse architects doesn't really add up.

Jan 9, 05 11:30 pm

I am in fact a visible minority, do not have a trust fund, but am male. Which essentially excludes me from just about every "advancement" program on the face of the planet. I would, however, be incensed if i was promoted ahead of my peers on the basis of my genetic make up, and not my ability. As i would also be infuriated if i was held back for the same reasons.

Jan 10, 05 8:42 am

I think Liberty hit the nail on the head about some of the bigger issues. Would also say the AIA & NCARB could better spend their time dealing with their own ineffectiveness.

I do have sympathy for what Stephanie will has gone through. While I don't see a problem with diversity in architecture - I do see it in construction. Often when on a job site I hear the "bitch" word often - usually referring to a female architect or client. That is uncalled for and needs to change. I do think it would help females in the profession to get out on site and throw some cursing right back their way. Some good "communication" always helps.

That said I think age discrimination exsists for both women and men. Many times contractors and clients feel I'm inexperienced given my age. When doing a building survey they were more apt to talk w/my cad tech 15ys my senior, even though he wasn't the designer at all.

Jan 10, 05 8:48 am

What a timely post. I just picked up a book at the library called "Creating a Life." I am only half way finished with but so far it addresses this issue in the business world as a whole. It is written for young (20-ish) women and discusses, essentially the choice that women have to make to be ultra-successful in a career or in family. It seems to me that a woman that has the drive and intelligence to be a great architect, or any other title, would be also be strongly aware of the complexities of motherhood and want to strive for perfection in that profession as well. Many women in all professions postpone family life for this reason, that they don't want to do motherhood half-heartedly (and shouldn't as it is an extremely important societal role), and so they either drop out to pursue that or postpone parenting until it is to late, biologically.

The book I mentioned claims that pursuing both, as many people would like to do, is more difficult in the US and UK than in other western countries because of a lack of social concern for help in childcare, flex-time, etc. Within the profession the problem is that understandably the small firms that most of us work for just can't feasibly provide us with the benefits that other professions take for granted (for me personally the big thing is health care) and at the same time there still remains the firmly entrenched idea that a good architect must work overtime and that nothing should be more important than our career.

Design IS important, but that is different than the "job" part of it.

Jan 10, 05 9:09 am
Raj Patel

This post is entierly sexist and reinforcing negative solutions to perceived problems. 50/50 is a half-baked idea with numerous problems. even is the problem actually exists, their "solution" is equally if not more problematic.

Jan 10, 05 9:41 am
liberty bell

TED, I suspect you misread me, or I wasn't clear. What I said, or tried to, is that the female architect in her mid 30's who shows up on a job site will command more respect from contractors than will the one in her 20's, because the contractor will think she has more experience and has stuck it out long enough in the field to know what she's talking about. This is equally true for males, actually.

And, a mid-30's architect does have more confidence in his/her experience and knowledge, and this is apparent to others, which also commands more respect.

I have put in my time in the trenches as a youngster, and as a mid-career architect I have far fewer problematic interactions with contractors than I did as a cute 20-something.

My advice to stephanie is to try to hang in there so you can reap the rewards later. I realize that doesn't really help now, but it might make you feel more optimistic.

Jan 10, 05 11:05 am
liberty bell

Or put it this way - the incredibly brilliant and talented but boyish-looking guy in our office had to grow a beard to get contractors to take him more seriously.

Jan 10, 05 11:08 am

I'm growing a beard. If I show up on site looking like ZZ Top that'll command some respect.

Jan 10, 05 11:18 am

2 women that were huge inspirations to me in my schooling and practice >>

marion weiss: a studio prof of mine, she showed me how much i could achieve on my own.
paulett taggart: while working for her, she showed me how to run a small business.

my comments are above and beyond the enormous amount that they thought me about design. i am forever grateful to them.

Jan 10, 05 11:48 am

My school's student architecture association arranged a women in architecture discussion panel a few years ago. It contained all the female faculty and all the wives of the male faculty that were architects. The total was a 5. It was pathetic. Most of the questions geared towards them were balancing family and work (posed by graduate students who were starting families). One professor asked us THIS question.

Women have been in architecture school for a while now, so why aren't those numbers being reflected in the workforce?

I too went to a school where there were more women in studio than men (I think my class was the last 50/50 class).

I am working at a large firm now, and there are quite a few women here, but not 50%. Also, the principals are almost all men (I think 1 woman who is in the financial administrator not an architect is a principal). What struck me more than the lack of women, is the lack of minorities. There are quite a few Asians (the city is 20% Asian), but minorities make up less than 20 of the 200 people in the office (architects and non-architects).

It is not just architecture. When I was in school, I would complain to my roommate about how there were only 3 female faculty members, and you had the possiblity of never taking classes from 2 of them. She would tell me that she was one of the 3 women in her department (Civil Engineering).

Jan 10, 05 1:42 pm

So sahar and others...What are you personally going to do? Aside from the unavoidable boneheads I haven't come across a lot of men who think women are incapable of leading the field, so that isn't the problem. (I am open to the idea that I am wrong with this assumption). Is there an up and coming group of women who plan to assume principal positions, especcially in larger firms. And by this I mean, do you have specific plans on how to get there, especcially how does having children, or not, fit in? Like it or not this is one of the major challenges and decisions facing women.

Jan 10, 05 2:14 pm

Museschild writes: "so shanec, your idea about the way little boys & girls play making them better or worse architects doesn't really add up."

Listen, the biggest barrier to prejudice these days has got to be the whole PC veil we put over things that threaten our social status-quo.

My DIRECT experience has shaped my own view of the sex-split in architecture. You can't really argue with my experience, just as I can't argue with yours... and I'm not trying to. Throughout grad school and in my work experience I have spent countless hours walking people through the specific mechanics of construction, CAD, modeling and rendering, even PRINTING for gosh sakes. Guys tend to figure it out for themselves, girls tend to either avoid the issues entirely (3D modeling is a big one) or rely on their male colleagues to fill that role.
WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY FINE WITH ME. We all fill different roles in this profession, and there are PLENTY of things I am no good at and am MORE than happy to rely on my teamates for. Organization and concensus being two big ones!

As I said, these are not "opinions" I'm expressing, these are experiences. Maybe the rest of the architecture world is 180degrees different from my experiences, but the best I can do is operate on the knowledge that I do have, and go from there.

ANd YES, I am SURE that there are a healthy spread of tomboys (even hot, smart, feminine ones) out there are MUCH more capable than I at the tasks I've listed, but it would be really lame if those people actually would have us believe that they were the majority.

Jan 10, 05 2:31 pm

I think the librarian Barbie won in the end.

Jan 10, 05 2:39 pm

I’m not interested in sitting around discussing gender issues with a bunch of dudes (that’s part of the problem) especially dudes as clueless as Shanec. However, instead of using the excuse that “women” aren’t interested in the “important” issues (computer modeling? Important?) in architecture we could do a bit of realizing that a lot of what gets looked as important or interesting in architecture at the moment is pretty specific to the interests of a small segment of the male population. Specifically insecure, sexually repressed, video game geeks. When these people get threatened by things like critical theory (which brings in academic culture which is much more diverse) or discourses about the body or even materiality or perception this gets declared “over” or “irrelevant” and replaced with MathCAD and “surfaces”. If you want a “practical” example, there are a lot more women (even hot, smart, feminine ones) in interiors and interiors make a lot more money than architects and, while they may not get the same respect this is a pretty big index of their relation to what people actually desire in their environment, ditto, graphic design or media or whatever.

The more pointless and self indulgent and escapist our profession becomes the more it will become the province of neurotic losers with ego issues and the less appealing it will be to anyone trying to effect real change in the world.

Have fun fixing the plotter dude.

Jan 10, 05 3:02 pm
Ms Beary

"Guys tend to figure it out for themselves, girls tend to either avoid the issues entirely" ha ha

my personal experience about differences between guys and gals: guys tend to pretend to know all the answers even when they don't have a clue. They call this "confidence"

women lack "confidence"

- it's what makes us good listeners and critical thinkers, we are observant and intuitive.

architecture is a profession requiring savvy - assuming a lot of stuff without really knowing for sure and balancing a complex problem with many unknowns without too much trouble. guys are good at this. architecture is also about finesse - an investigation into to the proper arrangement and attitude of spaces. women tend to be good at this.

ever notice how the one up and coming "minority" in design is the gay man - best of both worlds? coincidence? or the effeminant man?

Has the profession not set itself up over the years to recognize this typically male characteristic "confidence" and regard it higher than any other skill including design, design communication, and project management?

Jan 10, 05 3:34 pm

From my experiences, I totally agree there are not enough women in the firms I worked for, mostly small firms 10-30 people. And all the bosses except one who is an Interior designer are men. Even more strange, there are hardly any women I worked with have children. They are either married too late, or divorced. Going to have a child myself, I'm quite concerned about my career. I don't have people to draw experiences from or look up too. I don't think women are not as capable as men in the field in any sense.

I think lack of women in architecture field and any other professional field is related to lack of social support in childcare and family. I heard school dismissed at 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, what a professional women suppose to do? To leave work and pick their children then? Things got even worse with architects because financially disadvantages. I think maybe all the professional woman should organize to demand more support from the society, paid maternity leave, more flexible time, and more supportive daycare and school, which will match the work hours.

Jan 10, 05 4:04 pm
Ms Beary

adding to my above post.

"confidence" in women is called "bitch"

Jan 10, 05 4:13 pm

newstreamlinedmodel writes:

"If you want a “practical” example, there are a lot more women (even hot, smart, feminine ones) in interiors and interiors make a lot more money than architects and, while they may not get the same respect this is a pretty big index of their relation to what people actually desire in their environment, ditto, graphic design or media or whatever.

The more pointless and self indulgent and escapist our profession becomes the more it will become the province of neurotic losers with ego issues and the less appealing it will be to anyone trying to effect real change in the world.

Have fun fixing the plotter dude."

Um, you talk like somebody who's still in junior high. "hey lets all change the world". Whoa. Easy there.

First of all, pretty funny. Secondly, YES! You hit the nail on the head. Actually making architecture is heavily involved in the "making shit" and "putting stuff together" categories of time investment... and these don't involve "critical theory". YES! There are more women in interiors and graphics and YES they make more money!!! THATS GREAT! Putting skills and interest together to do something that is fun and profitable!

But the question was why there were so few women practicing in architecture and I have attemped to give you all MY OWN PERSONAL experience as evidence.

I mean COME ON... who will actually have the cahones to admit that BUILDING/MAKING SHIT is more attractive to guys than for girls??? Lets see the big picture here folks, architecture school is real "arty" but when you get into the field its much more nuts and bolts stuff, and those that have no interest in doing that kind of work tend to drop off. Hence the difference between women in school and women in practice. SURE there are lots of other issues that factor into it but COME ON... lets call a horse a horse here.

I'm trying to flush out a larger argument here by being a bit extreme, of COURSE there are women in this profession that I look up to and respect, and of COURSE there are women colleages that I have a lot of respect and admiration for... but the first step that nobody seems to want to take is to ACCEPT that men and women are VERY DIFFERENT and that those DIFFERENCES affect their professional lives.

So tell me, then. Why do YOU think there are fewer women then men in our profession?

Is the "man" keeping you down somehow? Is it baby-making? Or is it, as you've stated, a GOOD thing that there are fewer women because the architecture world sucks anyway?

How fucking hard is it to admit that chicks and dudes think different!!!! Damn, too much PC bullshit in some of our veins.

Jan 10, 05 5:05 pm

strawbeary, I couldn't agree more with your comments about confidence/arrogance. I had deleted a former comment before posting because I couldn't explain this correctly, but you nailed it. the biggest thing I struggle with as a young architect is knowing when to ask questions, when not to ask questions, who to ask, and trying to figure out whether I'm an idiot or just someone with only a year of experience.

I don't think that is uncommon for someone my age. I do think, in this particular instance, that many men will have the advantage over women in that ~generally~, boys don't have it drilled into their pigtailed heads to be modest, self-deprecating, polite, cute, sweet, and nice, as are girls; which ~generally~ leads to women who have learned to compromise and be diplomatic. I do think that this confidence which men tend to display is important and valuable, and I am learning a lot from my male coworkers on this end (ie, how to bullshit); but men may have a lot to learn from women about being diplomatic and subtle and not shooting off at the mouth. can be a benefit in terms of client retention.

Regarding shanec's very valid point of one's experience shading one's opinion, my experience in school was this: 7 women, 23 men in my graduating class, top 3 students were female. my current office has a male majority within the architecture department, but is owned by a woman and that seems to set a positive tone throughout the office in terms of gender, in that it doesn't become an issue. i don't know what the policies for maternity/paternity leave are off the top of my head, but since the principals have small children there is generally a family-friendly atmosphere. schedules are also very flexible, enabling one father to come in at 7:00 and leave at 4:00 to be with his kids.

Jan 10, 05 5:09 pm

Oh, another thing I've observed:

Chicks LOVE to draw curvy shit in plans but then have NO idea how do build it.

Jan 10, 05 5:09 pm
liberty bell

Great post, strawbeary. Confidence and determinism in women is almost always labelled bitchiness.

We recently had a consultant who was selected by the client tell the client he thought our drawing set was inadequate and full of holes. This would have been true if he had actually been reviewing a CD set rather than a DD set - he didn't realize his mistake. I told our in-house team - NOT the client or anyone else - "I think X is just being a bitch". The ensuing (mostly) good-humored clamor about me using that term for a man nearly derailed the entire meeting.

I think women need to "take back" the word bitch by applying it to men when they are, actually, just being bitchy. As it is now, men use it to describe women whenevr we do pretty much anything.

Jan 10, 05 5:14 pm

indeed, liberty. oh shanec, i have worked for a couple of men who draw curvy shit with out a clue either. it goes both ways. ignorance is not gender specific.

Jan 10, 05 5:21 pm

"oh shanec, i have worked for a couple of men who draw curvy shit with out a clue either. it goes both ways. ignorance is not gender specific."

You are very right. My comment was, sadly, just meant to get a rise out of people.

Jan 10, 05 5:27 pm

Female architects should all don this fasion statement and start a revolution.

Jan 10, 05 5:31 pm
Ms Beary

"the biggest thing I struggle with as a young architect is knowing when to ask questions, when not to ask questions, who to ask, and trying to figure out whether I'm an idiot or just someone with only a year of experience."

yeh- i struggle with that too after three years still. all the male architects hate it when I ask questions. why? cause they don't know the answers to my questions and they have to make up an answer.

Jan 10, 05 5:32 pm

"ever notice how the one up and coming "minority" in design is the gay man - best of both worlds? coincidence? or the effeminant man?

Has the profession not set itself up over the years to recognize this typically male characteristic "confidence" and regard it higher than any other skill including design, design communication, and project management?"

Right on. My mom always said she thought it would be a great career move if I were to be gay. She was joking but she was right.

One other thing that I haven't mentioned yet is this: Women make better managers. The female project managers that I have met have ROCKED. SO there you go, I want a female boss. The bitchier the better =).

Jan 10, 05 5:32 pm


Jan 10, 05 5:33 pm
Ms Beary

women make better communicators

Jan 10, 05 5:34 pm

strawbeary, your description is very similar to my own experience. i happily join the applause!

liberty bell, that is such a great idea!

can we start with the obvious example?

Jan 10, 05 5:37 pm
Museschild bitch.


Jan 10, 05 5:43 pm

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