On June 23, the Association for Women in Architecture and Design hosts a symposium at the MAK Center on the topic of gender. The LA Forum spoke to Jillian Hensiek, AWA+D director of programs, about the upcoming event and asks the question: Does gender matter?
I would imagine the answer to this question will change depending who you talk to; and maybe we need to first define the word matter. To me it comes in a few forms—gender might matter to the creative and professional experience of the architect or designer, to the work itself or to the perception of that work. And then again, perhaps the work and experience transcends the gender binary. This is why we’ve assembled a panel of diverse and talented women to share their own experiences and thoughts. I want to know what they think.
I think it’s clear that advances have been made, and yet there still seem to be setbacks. There have been improvements in female leadership and licensees but a gap remains in pay and in the student to workforce ratio. I would like to see a day that when a brilliant female architect like Zaha Hadid passes away, the headlines don’t read “The world’s only superstar female architect dies in Miami beach” (as the Miami Herald stated). I think there is room in the world to acknowledge more superstars.
That is a question I would really like to ask the panel next week. I think the most difficult issue facing anyone in architecture or design today is confidence and perseverance in a world with so much competition and rapidly changing technologies. I hope difficulties center around what people are capable of and not preexisting notions of what they must overcome.