In observance of Women’s History Month, The Architect’s Newspaper—a woman-owned and woman-led company—is celebrating the contributions of women to architecture and design. Throughout March, we’ll highlight stories that put women in the spotlight. Upcoming pieces include a feature story about the spatial politics of abortion, reviews of architecture and art by created by women, and recommendations for design-related activities around the country during Women’s History Month. This is, of course, in addition to AN’s ongoing coverage of architecture news shaped by women.
To be clear, this does not represent a change to how we normally cover architecture and design. Stories about women, or featuring projects produced by the leadership and labor of women, occur throughout the year. Consider coverage of a NOMA professional development program, led by three women in Houston; news of Nora Wendl’s exhibition about Edith Farnsworth; Peggy Deamer’s observations on the plight of woman deans; and a profile of developer Anyeley Hallová, among other articles. In addition, it is part of AN’s everyday coverage to publish woman-led design projects and to support the work of woman writers.
Still, it is difficult to feel uplifted when larger societal currents seem bent on curtailing the freedom of women. Hence AN’s publication of a declaration from Princeton’s Womxn in Design and Architecture group after the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Health Women’s Clinic. This is the first Women’s History Month since the celebration began in 1987 that the protection of Roe v. Wade have not been in place. Elsewhere, efforts to limit the actions of women are underway, with attempts to force the sharing of menstrual information down to what women wear when working in the office. According to Department of Labor data from 2020, women still only make 83 percent of what men make in salary. It is valid to both celebrate the history of women’s rights and continue the fight for actual equality.
In her dual review of The Women Who Changed Architecture and Expanding Field of Architecture: Women in Practice Across the Globe, regular AN contributor Marianela D’Aprile assessed a tricky duality: that histories of women in architecture should be broadly uplifted and that contemporary practitioners seem uninterested in the category of “woman architect.” Why not just describe them as architects? D’Aprile investigated the apparent tokenization while offering suggestions for how to better support women in architecture in a more structural way. “The majority of women who interact with buildings are not architects; there is more to be gleaned about the role of architecture in women’s lives—and about the impact of women on architecture—by looking at their experience,” she wrote.
It is inspiring to see the proliferation of networks to support women in architecture, from the many WiA committees within AIA chapters to the platform of Madame Architect, which will celebrates the month by reaching its 400th profile. Tomorrow, AN’s Facades+ event in Atlanta closes out the day with AEC Rising: Women in Design & Construction, a roundtable about the experiences of local woman architects, contractors, and fabricators.
AN marks Women’s History Month with deep appreciation for the work of women while also keeping an eye on the road ahead. As far as we have come in improving the diversity, equity, and inclusion of the practice of architecture, there is still much further to go.