February Book Club Pick
Where Are the Women Architects?
This truly thought-provoking book, written by Despina Stratigakos, tackles the curious phenomena of persistently low numbers of women practicing in architecture despite the rising numbers of females attending and graduating from architecture school.
The author, a historian and “feminist scholar,” explores the hurdles and challenges facing women in this field as well as the strides they are making today in their efforts to effect real change.
While Stratigakos calls this unfortunate trend nothing less than a “tragedy,” she also points out that it is clearly nothing new. Historical context is provided along with the current-day goings-on in this male-dominated world.
The reader discovers that while the stock answer to “where are the women architects?” is typically that they are in the home raising families, this is actually a simplistic, and oftentimes incorrect or misleading, explanation.
As consideration is given to the impact of pay inequality, lack of mentors, and a male-dominated workplace culture, architect Deborah Burke contends that it is not really one single cause or event but rather “the recurring small blows” or “death by a thousand cuts” that pushes women out.
The message becomes clear that more needs to be done to halt the exodus, and Stratigakos encouragingly points out that in today’s world, female architects do have many male allies within the field who are “also dissatisfied with the status quo.”
Throughout the book, the author’s genuine concern and passion for the subject matter are palpable. Indeed, she clearly and unabashedly throws down the gauntlet as she implores, “For those of you who, like me, care deeply about architecture and want to see it become a truly inclusive profession, I ask that you be vocal and make trouble.”
Do not be deceived by its slim silhouette; this timely book is chock-full of fascinating historical background, contemporary data, and provocative insight. It is a valuable and stirring addition to any architect’s library.
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