Where Are the Women Architects?

Despina Stratigakos. Princeton Univ., $19.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-691-17013-8
The first woman to graduate from an architecture program did so 140 years ago, and women still “struggle to gain a foothold in the profession” today, according to Stratigakos (A Woman’s Berlin: Building the Modern City) in her slim but sharp volume on problems women face in the architecture profession. The author starts by looking at ways in which women have contributed to the field and the rise of modern design movements. When Robert Venturi was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1991, scant mention was made of his design partner and wife, Denise Scott Brown. Stratigakos explains that the omission was glaring—the husband and wife team had worked together for three decades. Thirteen years later, when Zaha Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize in 2004, the press remarked on her character as well as her work, such as Hadid’s reputation for being “difficult” and a “diva,” terms that Stratigakos argues “suggest a female excess and instability of emotion.” Subsequent chapters explore biases “against women as innovative creators” and the dearth of female architects cited in academic texts and online resources. A chapter on the launch of the Architect Barbie doll in 2011 includes both the positive and negative reactions to the doll from the professional architect community, providing an accessible way to explore stereotypes among architects. Though these issues aren’t necessarily unique to architecture, Stratigakos’s concise, accessible book shows that they are nevertheless prevalent. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/15/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
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