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Monday, 13 August 2012

Seriously, Why Bother?

Deeper Week 2

I came across a very interesting article by Gill Matthewson, as she reflects on the continuing disappearance of women from architecture and why we should care.

In 2002 Paula Whitman indicated that women comprised 43% of architecture students in Australia. Their representation in the profession varied from state to state: 11.6% of registered architects in Queensland, 15% in New South Wales. Victoria has the highest proportion of women registered at 18.2% (I probably contributed 0.001%)

Despite near gender parity at architecture schools and in graduation numbers, women still constitute just 20% of registered architects in Australia in 2012 ... and women earn less that men. (absolutely shocking)

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) surveys states that about 86% of architects practice in small offices (which means less than 5 people), the average income for architects is less than the award for carpenters/ draft person (this is true) and many architects practice part time (often ‘moonlighting’ between employee architects and private commission).

The world is simply not constructed in a way that allows everyone to “just get on and do what they want to do”. Gender is, of course, inevitable – it’s a critical part of our identities. As soon as we meet someone we make assumptions about who they are and how we might want or need to interact with them; however assumptions do make social life manageable.

We base these assumptions on everything from what people look like (including their gender, what they wear, what they carry, their age, ethnicity, height, etc.) to what they sound like (accent, type of words and other noises they use, etc.). But gender carries a lot of weight and who can disagree?

Where things come unstuck is when simplistic stereotypes kick in and we get gender judgement: because I am a woman, or a man, I will ‘naturally’ act, react, think, work, play, design, live, desire, etc. in a particular way. These valuing systems are at times really obvious and at other times very subtle. And because gender is a basic building block of how a society operates therefore judgement are based on gender ripples through everything from the small to large scale.

It is complicated ...


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