American Institute of Architects: Female Architects Speak Out

Architects come in every shape and form and from every walk of life. There are many architects who belong to the American Institute of Architects who have made the world a better place by their designs. Female architects make up an important part of our organization, and many of them are now speaking out about what it is like to be in this often-male-dominated field.

Indeed, (and its rather unfortunate to say) but female architects have become accustomed to saying these five words: “I am not the decorator” rather often. This sentiment prompted the AIA to do a study on diversity in which they determined that many female architects do not feel there is much “gender equity” in this profession.

One of the women who inevitably served as a symbol for other female architects was Zaha Hadid. She has a huge list of projects-both realized and unrealized-that would be the envy of any architect whether male or female. Moreover, this British-Iraqui architect was the first female architect to win the Pritzker Award in 2004. Although she recently passed away at the age of 65, she did everything she could to inspire other female architects to enter the field. Unfortunately, the progress has still been extremely slow.

When Hadid was in her heyday in 2004, only 24 percent of the profession was comprised of the female gender. Unfortunately, that number has only raised to about 25.7 percent. Just looking at the percentages alone one can tell there are still assumptions and obstacles that must be overcome. After Ms. Hadid’s passing, the New York Times presented an online questionnaire to at least open up a dialogue about the issues female architects face.

The biggest issue these female architects encounter would be defeating the preconceived notions many have of just what an architect actually is. Indeed, it takes some of them a number of days while working on a project to convince others that they are, in fact, the architect, and often the only one for a project as well.

One of the most pressing problems for female architects would be simply being taken seriously. Many of their colleagues will not even give them credit for changing a light bulb. As one female architect attested, the men are actually “rather surprised” when she is able to give them a solid solution. But all credit goes to these architects who continue to pave the way for others who want to go into male-dominated fields. The glass ceiling still exists, but it continues to crack little by little simply due to their persistence. Check more: