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Women in Architecture: in Conversation for International Women’s Day

March has seen an exciting array of events in the world of Architecture to celebrate International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion, members of the Hickman & Smith Architects team attended the event ‘Women in Architecture: in Conversation for International Women’s Day’ at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham.

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We were fortunate enough to hear presentations from special guests Kate Murphy of Fosters & Partners and Susan Le Good of AHMM. Kate provided fascinating insights into the process of designing and constructing the Stirling Prize-wining project Bloomberg, while Susan took us through her professional journey at AHMM, from joining the practice when they were a team of six to her role today as Associate Director. We were particularly entertained by the playful patterned bathroom designs in the remodelling of New Scotland Yard, corresponding to different police car models.

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The event raised a number of key considerations regarding the gender gap in the field of Architecture. Dr Valeria Passetti explained how the gender imbalance manifests itself in Architecture, noting that while there is roughly a 50/50 split in terms of men and women beginning their Architecture studies at university, the number of women completing Part 2 courses falls considerably, and those obtaining Part 3 professional registration are fewer still. The panel discussion and audience questions touched upon obstacles to women entering and remaining in the profession, such as juggling time between work and family commitments and working in a male-dominated arena.

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While gender parity in the architecture profession, in terms of both the numbers of women architects and the number of women occupying roles of seniority, is still very much a work in progress, it seems things are moving in the right direction. The Architects’ Journal reports record numbers of women applying to study architecture courses at university in 2019.[1] Equally promising, as a result of the event, the setting up of a Women in Architecture Group in the East Midlands is now in the pipeline.[2] This is chance for architects and architecture students across the East Midlands to support, promote and celebrate women in architecture.

Laura Hickman

[1] https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/record-number-of-women-apply-for-architecture-related-degrees/10039744.article?blocktitle=women-in-the-news&contentID=22666

[2] https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/knowledge-landing-page/women-in-architecture-in-conversation-for-international-womens-day