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The Advantages of Being a Woman in Architecture

When I first thought of this blog post, I was excited. I figured, “why not! There must be a ton of reasons. Right?” I mean, there are missing women in the field but there’s also an emergence of recognition for women in architecture (and the missing ones!). People are claiming the proverbial the glass ceiling is shattered! I could find a positive spin too, couldn’t I?

I decided to sit in a quiet room and really think this one through. Actually, I’m on hold with Orange (the equivalent of ATT in France), so I have tons of time. I pick up my pen. I pause.

Are there any advantages at all?

In fact, it took me a long while to come up with a narrative for this blog. I wanted to stay away from the simplistic notions, like women are better at interior design and kitchen design or that women care more about program so they are better at planning.

I decided I would make this a personal perspective about why architecture suits me as a women and a human being.

  1. I do not have to go play racket ball with my male client as they never ask. Same goes for golf and poker games.  This is all good since I’m not much for team sport or activities.
  2. Being one of the few women architects who owns her own business in Northern California confers respect and means I am a slighter bigger fish in a huge pond.
  3. I have learned a ton (pun intended) about structures and construction and yet, like many of my male architects friends, I’ve never felt the need to pick up a hammer and put that knowledge to use.  I’m happy to have the contractors do that.
  4. In the same vein, I can easily impress any contractors when I start to talk about construction technologies.
  5. Architecture is a multi facetted endeavor that fits many personality types. For me thinking outside the box is an essential part of what and how I operate and architecture is a good fit.  Architecture also moves at a snail’s pace while I move at the speed of a bullet train. It’s good for me to work on something that slows me down.
  6. Architecture involves a lot of multi tasking, which is really just a euphemism for having to juggle about ten balls up in the air all at once. But I love juggling.
  7. My feminist social values have always been at the forefront of my architectural thinking.  It is my commitement to women reproductive rights, right to abortions and affordable health care, that led me to work for Planned Parenthood, Feeling social injustice is a big motivator and I feel proud using my career as a tool to help make an active difference in health care design.
  8. 8. And finally I have enjoyed the camaraderie with other female architects. Nothing like being a minority to make you stick together. Us women architects really know what it means to be in the trench and it has made us closer and willing to share experiences expertise and just a good stiff drink.


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