Women in Architecture

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“What has happened in the past 36 years? I think the fair answer would be both a great deal and not enough.” – Susana Torre

The topic of women in design took the spotlight earlier this year when architect Denise Scott Brown spoke up and asked to be recognized for her work, specifically to be included in the 1991 Pritzker Prize (architecture’s highest honor) that was given solely to her partner and husband, Robert Venturi.  Scott Brown’s call for inclusivity ignited both discussion and action, prompting two students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to start an online petition demanding the award committee reconsider their decision. Since then, over 18,000 people have signed the petition, including several prominent architects, former Pritzker winners, critics, academics, students and enthusiasts alike.

“Let’s salute the notion of joint creativity.” – Denise Scott Brown

The Pritzker decision stirs up gender and equality dialogue both old and new, encouraging us to reflect upon the past and consider the landscape of the profession moving forward.  So, what has changed? And what still needs to change? In the United States, approximately half of all architecture students are women. Sounds like progress. However, according to 2011 data from the American Institute of Architects, only one quarter of employees in architectural offices across the country are female. And the numbers in leadership positions are even lower, at a mere 17%.

A recent post by the Architectural League provides additional insight. In 1977, the Archive of Women in Architecture produced a book and complementary exhibition entitled Women in American Architecture: A Historic and Contemporary Perspective. Organized by Susana Torre, the project set out to “expand the discourse” by presenting and celebrating women’s contributions to the fields of architecture, planning, and design. Now, more than three decades later, the Architectural League revisits the groundbreaking work in a candid interview with Susana Torre to discuss the issues and ideas raised in 1977, and where we stand today. Read the full transcript here: http://archleague.org/2013/09/susana-torre/

“Architecture is a choral and collaborative practice…We must accept that change does not happen of its own accord, and sometimes not even in response to well-founded demands. Change requires collective action and constant pressure to obtain cultural recognition for women’s work.” – Susana Torre

Studio G Architects has been SDO (SOMWBA)-certified as a Woman Business Enterprise since incorporating in 1993. Supporting and mentoring young professionals and potential design professionals has been a priority for Studio G from its inception. Under the leadership of Gail Sullivan, the firm has worked to open the doors of architecture to women through hiring and internships at the firm; mentorship, referrals and informal support; and involvement with organizations such as YouthBuild’s Designery, Women Across Borders, Common Boston, Women in Design, and more.

Find the Denise Scott Brown petition here: https://www.change.org/petitions/the-pritzker-architecture-prize-committee-recognize-denise-scott-brown-for-her-work-in-robert-venturi-s-1991-prize)

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