Women in Architecture: Learning from the Past to Change the Future

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2012-05
Authors
Yoshimori-Yamamoto, Denise
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Abstract
Until recently the inclusion of women in the history of architecture in America was non-existent. The current pedagogy of architectural programs, internship training, and practice is gender biased, focusing on the male stars of architecture thus creating a male biased narrow definition of success in the profession. This one-sided view of the profession’s history and vision of success is not only inaccurate, but is detrimental to women in the field. Many women, after entering practice and obtaining their licenses, leave the profession as a result. This study reflects on the progression of the profession and summarizes the lives and careers of five historically significant women pioneers in the profession beginning in 1880 through 1980 who were outstanding, not only because they were exceptional women but because they were competent architects. Louise Blanchard Bethune, Marion Mahony, Julia Morgan, Denise Scott Brown, and Beverly Willis were talented, multifaceted architects who created notable architectural projects, established successful selfdefined practices, and have interesting personal stories of their road to success. Women currently in practice have benefitted from the achievements of these historical role models. Architects like Jeanne Gang, Anna Franz, Maya Lin, Monica Ponce de Leon are some of the women in practice today who, like their predecessors, have created their own career paths and do not let obstacles stop them from pursuing their attainment of success. If women in school, training, and practice were exposed to the history of these pioneers, they would realize that they, these pioneers have faced numerous obstacles in their careers and lives and did not let anyone or anything deter them from pursuing their dreams and defining their careers and lives in their own way. The entire architectural profession including education, training, and practice, along with architectural organizations, needs to change and work collaboratively to embrace and promote the true history of the profession that includes both men and women. The profession must progress to best service the twenty-first century society.
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