International Women’s Day, now celebrated on March 8, was first commemorated in the early 1900s, as women across the globe were actively campaigning and protesting for equal rights. What began as small protests, rose to a global scale and trigged over a period of time a series of political, labor and social advancements for women. Unfortunately, these achievements do not always guarantee gender equality in practice (and in some countries laws still exist that favor men). Women still suffer from physical and psychological violence, lower salaries, and a lack of recognition, among other things. While this is the situation for women around the world, there are also specific statistics that show how women in architecture are not valued socially and professionally. There are few women who gain international recognition, making them unknown to many professionals and architecture students, and making it seem as if they do not exist.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked the Brazilian non-profit group Arquitetas Invisíveis (Invisible Architects) to share with us a part of their work, which identifies and recognizes the work of women in architecture and urbanism. The result is this list of 48 women divided into seven categories: pioneers, “in the shadows,” architecture, landscape architecture, social architecture, urbanism and sustainable architecture.
The recent announcement that Julia Morgan has posthumously received the 2014 AIA Gold Medal, the AIA’s top honor, while positive and inspirational, raises some important questions concerning the recognition and advancement of women in the profession. She is the first woman, living or dead, to receive the honor in the award’s 106-year history. From 1907 to 2012, all recipients have been men.
It seems Morgan was destined to be first. She was the first female graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1902) and the first woman to obtain an architecture license in California. She is known principally as architect of the extravagant and stunning Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California and the designer of over 700 buildings.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced today their decision to posthumously award the 2014 AIA Gold Medal to Julia Morgan, FAIA (1872-1957), “whose extensive body of work has served as an inspiration to a generation of female architects.”
“Julia Morgan is unquestionably among the greatest American architects of all time and a true California gem,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in her recommendation letter. “Morgan’s legacy has only grown over the years. She was an architect of remarkable breadth, depth, and consistency of exceptional work, and she is widely known by the quality of her work by those who practice, teach, and appreciate architecture.”