Snapshot: women in architecture

Quotes from 1975 to the present on the topic of women in architecture.


From my building site experience I have learnt that builders have no particular bias against women architects since they regard all architects as women anyway!
—Unnamed female architect Architectural Design, August 1975, cited in Lindsay Mackie and Polly Pattullo, Women at Work, London: Tavistock Publications, 1977


In 1984 the RAIA [Royal Australian Institute of Architects] undertook a national survey of all its members to ascertain patterns of professional involvement … This National Survey included a number of key issues which could be considered on the basis of the gender of the respondents. Results for several of these key issues, such as levels of income, types of employment, and status in the profession suggested to the RAIA that women architects were still, in 1984, a distinctly different group than their male counterparts.
Women in the Architectural Profession a Report by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects to the Human Rights Commission, November 1986


There are many in the profession who claim that sheer force of numbers will gradually, over time, create a gender balance. However, when the reasons for women leaving the profession are identified, there is little evidence that the gender bias in the architectural profession is being addressed at a fast enough rate to attract and maintain the increasing rate of women graduates.
—”Towards a More Egalitarian Profession Findings of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Committee on the Status of Women in Architecture, August 1991


[It’s] not so much about the exclusion of women but a particular form of their inclusion … this inclusion is masked in a discourse of gender that lies at the heart of professional practice itself.
—Celia Davies “The Sociology of Professions and the Profession of Gender,” Sociology, 30 (4), 1994


[We] might address the question of women’s low participation rate in the profession of architecture by suggesting that this is just evidence of women’s good sense. Architecture, far from being a heroic artistic practice, more closely resembles accounting insofar as it operates primarily as a service industry to maximise profits for its clients.
—Bronwyn Hanna “Three Feminist Analyses of the Built Environment,” Architectural Theory Review 1, no. 1, 1996


Clearly, based on the statistics outlined in this report, Australia is missing out on the contribution at a senior level of many individuals trained to advise on and design the built environment. Based on the premise that the directors of architectural practices are the personnel in the architectural profession who are most likely to influence the design of the built environment, the findings of this study highlight a significant blockage in fulfilling the aspirations of female architectural practitioners to contribute to the improvement of our urban infrastructure.
—Warren Kerr The RAIA National President, Foreword to Paula Whitman, “Going Places: The Career Progression of Women in Architecture, Findings of a national study examining the careers of women in the architectural profession in Australia,” 2005


Despite its image as a bastion of progressivism, architecture is a profession in which the glass ceiling has yet to be scratched, must less shattered.
—Nicolai Ouroussoff “Keeping Houses, Not Building Them,” The New York Times, October 31, 2007


Do I think this [Architect Barbie] will help attract more young women to the profession? No … The trouble we have is keeping women in the profession and actually converting them to licensed [registered] architects.
—Kristine C. Royal quoted in “Young Architects React to Architect Barbie,” Architizer, February 24, 2011


The world is how you see it. Don’t let anyone else’s image of it determine yours.
—Farshid Mousaavi The Architects’ Journal, March 2012

These quotes were provided by the Australian Research Council-funded project Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work, and Leadership. For further research on women in architecture, see the Parlour website.



Published online: 6 Aug 2012


Architecture Australia, May 2012

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