Women In Architecture


     Of what historic and contemporary concern is it that the architecture
profession has been, and continues to be, strongly male dominated in Australia
(currently 90% of registered architects in NSW are men). Ideally, what
proportion of the profession should women occupy and why? From the start of
human history, we always experience certain level of inequality between sexes.

It can be seen everywhere around the world and is a concern to everyone, both
men and women. This inequality is an important issue within the workforce of
many professions, such as being an architect, landscape architect, city planners
and designers within the built environment. Industrial revolution is the onset
for women to become segregated from home, creating greater spatial division to
impact on gender roles. There is common concept between the relationship of
public and private space with male and female as described by Kate Lyons. This model represents the suburbanisation occurring in the late 19th
century and the early 20th century. Many suburban women are forced within their
daily activities due to the constraints on accessibility and mobility in
low-density suburbs and lead to a feeling of being isolated from the inner city.

These constraints of this gender role affect the women's ability in the broader
professions within the built environment, as they were restricted at home.
"... Architects do not like to employ women in their offices; contractors
do not like to build from their plans; people with money to spend do not like to
entrust its expenditure to a woman." This is probably due to the fact that
women are kept at home without 'knowing much' of the 'outside world'; the design
professions have intrigued women into marginal roles. Architects and other
similar professional fields "have perceived women not as profession but as
passive clients." From these, women are users of the designed built
environment as there are only few to have the opportunity to design them. This
forces women to adapt to the way environments have been designed (by men). There
is a concern where many women architects, landscape architects, planners,
builders and designers such as Catharine Beecher, Louise Bethune. Eileen Gray,

Julia Morgan, and others are not formally identified with professions. Many of
their works have been credited to their male colleagues. Another concern is that
there is a lack of sensitivity towards women's needs within the built
environment. Design strategies and schemes often fail to consider women as a
disadvantage group with exclusive needs, many of these needs are inadequately
met or even un-met. This was evident in several Local Environmental Plans and

Development Control Plans of the Sydney Metropolitan area that had not
identified women as a disadvantage group to be included amongst the handicapped
and elderly in design issue. Having considered women's issues within the built
environment, in concluding one must ask are the fundamentals of professions of
the built environment gender biased? Whilst the outcomes of these are gender
biased, the fundamentals of planning require subsequent analysis in order to
resolve the question. "... not only do men and women view a common world
from different perspectives, they view different worlds as well." The
issues raised are not subject to strictly to women, but men also experience them
though with less intensity. In addressing these issues a gender sensitive
environment will be beneficial to all.

Bibliography

1.

Allen, J., Evidence and Silence: Feminism and the Limits of History in Feminist

Challenges, 1986. 2. Freestone, R., Florence Taylor: The Lady Town Planner of

Loftus Street in New Planner, Dec 1991. 3. Hanna, B., Florence Taylor's Hats in

Architecture Bulletin, Oct 1986. 4. Hanna, B., Three Ferminist Analyses of the

Built Environment in Architectural Theory Review, vol. 1, no.1, April 1996.