Reflections on International Womens’ Day

Today is International Women’s Day, to celebrate we asked the women within our office to talk about what it’s like to be a woman within the architectural field.

Veronica: Gender inequality within field of architecture has always been something lecturers, peers and the media has warned me about. Women have often had to deal with discrimination, sexism and harassment. While these setbacks are still present, in my opinion the climate and attitude of women within architectural field is slowly, but definitely changing. The number of women within the field is increasing, half of the Burtenshaw Scoufis office is comprised of women- all at different levels of experience and stages of life. At the end of the day, I don’t think good architecture is gender specific, however having strong female role models within architecture will advance gender equality.

Zizi: I used to ask a very knowledgeable lecturer why did she not pursue her career in architecture, and her answer was simple, ‘family’. At that age I could not comprehend the sacrifice of a potential female architect would make, and I feared that this would become my inevitable destiny too. But throughout the years I have seen more and more respectable architects who can juggle their career and family really well. This has given me the confidence that women can pursue their career without shunning the idea of having a family when it is time. I think I still have a long way to go and aspire to achieve the level of work like the “French Goth” – Odile Decq as her expression of elegance and strong personality in her work has always impressed me.

Fern: When posed with the question: “Name your favourite architect”, even though gender diversity has remained a notable discussion topic for decades, the names of female architects did not make up a significant percentage among the answers heard. At BSA, we strongly promote gender equity in this male-dominated industry where female architects’ efforts carry the same weight as male architects. It is challenging to retain a balanced ratio of female and male architects in the office, but we show that great architecture has no gender. As a young female graduate architect with BSA, we are given the same platform to perform and trained to be an all rounded architect, leaning from inspiring architects and exposed to new development opportunities. “The Death and the Life of Great American Cities” author, Jane Jacobs caught my attention and quickly becomes the main influence among female students in the architecture school, partly because of her vitriolic criticism against the city plan by the traditional male-dominated profession and her people-oriented philosophy.

America: Nowadays, despite the fact that in many parts of the world it is still difficult to accept gender equality in the professional field, women have been gaining ground in architecture, achieving high-responsibility roles. During my education, I was inculcated with the values of professional equality. This has helped me to think that the fact of being a woman should not be an obstacle to success in a professional career since we have the potential to excel in any field. I am delighted to be part of Burtenshaw Scoufis Architecture where there is equal opportunity. Finally, what matters to achieve a high-quality architecture is the passion and commitment of those who do it regardless of their gender.

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