Women in the Workplace

Women, for the most part, are not seen as subordinate or subservient to men these days.  Don't get me wrong, there are still many challenges for women in the workplace, but that's not what I want to talk about today.  There's plenty written on that.
image courtesy of

What I'm thinking about is what unique perspective or approach do women bring that makes the work and/or the workplace richer?

Just a few:

  • an empathy (perhaps inspired by taking care of many members of a family) for a great variety of client/customer perspectives
  • an ability to tackle multiple, sometimes contradictory elements of a situation as one problem
  • an appreciation for an over-arching quality of life rather than an approach of obsession (workaholic, playaholic, careeraholic)
  • a preference for collaboration; a reluctance for the limelight 
  • a perspective for the big picture
I'm not saying men do not sometimes have these qualities.  I guess I'm saying that if they do, they are qualitatively different than women's versions.

And yet the contribution of women is often glossed over.  Is it because of deference or the curse of collaboration?  Is it because women rarely "toot their own horn?"  Who knows.  


"Mother teaching child" 1881
by Alfred Gilbert
Image courtesy of ketrin1407

I find myself continually wishing that there were room for valuable part-time architects in a firm.  It's rather all or nothing, like many other careers.  But for working moms, there are just not enough hours in a day.  Even when children are school age, there are multiple days off every month, early release Fridays and other days, teacher inservice, and don't forget summer.  Even on a full school day, a primary caregiver would need to be home by 2:30 in the afternoon.  Not exactly a full work day.

And yet....  I feel like (once my children ARE all in school), that I could contribute immensely at about 20 hours a week....a much larger contribution than 1/2 of fulltime.  I would be worth MORE per hour because I could be contemplating a design problem while cooking supper, drawing baths, or cleaning up.  Many design solutions are found just by mulling over them, not necessarily at a desk.  Some of my best ideas come when my hands are busy.

And I find that though I have not practiced architecture in the years since I starting having children, I have continued to learn and grow and expand my architectural skills.... in ways I could not have done if I had continued to be employed.

Women in Architecture

Denise Scott Brown, the lifetime wife and partner of Robert Venturi, was not acknowledged when he (but not she) was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1991.  There is a petition to amend this oversight.  Read about it here in a beautifully written article by Esther Sperber in the fall 2013 issue of Lilith.

Read on, two important articles on women in architecture:

Let’s salute the notion of joint creativity.”  -- Denise Scott Brown


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