Women Write Architecture was established in 2017 by Harriet Harriss as an educator resource reading list of women architecture writers. With regular updates, it serves as a useful resource to address reading list imbalances for institutions, educators and students.
The audience of Women Write Architecture is largely academic – students and faculty who are concerned with gender bias in architectural education reading lists. Interaction is principally through the comments section on the blog, where the audience can propose new titles/authors for inclusion. Every once in a while, the reading list features in the media again and more contributors participate.
Each academic year, architecture and interior design students are issued reading lists that are largely dominated by male writers, leading them to assume that the key voices of authority within the discipline of architecture are male. The list seeks to partially address the problem by featuring women writers in architecture across a whole range of architecture-related subject areas: from planning to pedagogy, technology to professional practice. It aims to provide a useful resource to address reading list imbalances – for institutions, educators and students alike.
Activities and action underway
The lack of gender parity in architecture and interior design reading lists highlight the extent to which inequalities in the profession are being sustained and maintained by schools of architecture – both in terms of their staffing profiles and their curricula content. For example, although one in three architectural educators in the UK are women, only 2.5% (1:40) of UK Architecture faculty is female at the Dean level. In contrast, in the USA, one in four Deans of architecture are women. Dean appointments are made on the basis of an established body of reputable work, citations, and research. If fewer students know about the work of women, ultimately their work is ignored and they’re less likely to be considered for senior academic roles. Subsequently, the problem is endlessly perpetuated. The Women writing about architecture reading list is therefore designed to address this imbalance. It features more than 300 women writers (so far), and readers of this blog are encouraged to propose other members through comments and direct messaging.
The reading list has featured in different media outlets, including Dezeen.
The ambition for Women Write Architecture is to grow the list but to also create a better platform for crowdsourcing nominations.
As with all of academe, the project has been challenged by a lack of funding to support the expansion and increased participation that this project deserves.
Advice to others
Calling out injustice is a good place to start. That’s how you find your collaborators, allies and advocates, who will help you define and activate your initiative.
Pratt Institute School of Architecture, New York – where the founder is currently based.