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Maria Smith

"Why Do Women Really Leave Architecture" Is the Wrong Question

09:30 - 20 February, 2014
"Why Do Women Really Leave Architecture" Is the Wrong Question, Birmingham Library / Mecanoo. Mecanoo's Francine Houben was named Architect Journal's Woman Architect of the Year. Image © Christian Richters
Birmingham Library / Mecanoo. Mecanoo's Francine Houben was named Architect Journal's Woman Architect of the Year. Image © Christian Richters

Maria Smith, shortlisted for The Architect's Journal's Emerging Woman Architect of the Year, has just published an article in The Architectural Review titled "Why do Women Really Leave Architecture?" - an article that, like many over the last year, attempts to tackle the tricky question of why women (who make up over 40% of architecture students in the US but only 23% of the profession) leave architecture. For the first few paragraphs, I was nodding in agreement, eagerly reading something that - finally - promised to offer a different perspective on the "women in architecture" question. 

Unfortunately, a few paragraphs later, all that promise falls terribly flat. Smith spends a good amount of time setting up a fabulous argument, and then - disappointingly - falls into the very traps she was hoping to break wide open. By the article's conclusion, I was less satisfied than when I started, wondering: is this even the right question we should be asking?