Women in Architecture: to Be or Not to be a Mother

By Angela Fedele
Feb 4, 2015, Sourceable

The women in architecture debate can be a tired one.

It is no secret that women are leaving the profession in droves. This is supported by stories of gender inequality, poor working or pay conditions and the strain of balancing motherhood and an architectural career.

A 2014 Architects Journal survey found that 87 per cent of its women respondents believe that having children puts women at a disadvantage in architecture.


It is often considered that women in architecture only have two choices: to be an architect or to be a mother.

This almost “stuck” issue reigns true if you consider aligning statistics of women in architecture:

  • Women are generally scarce in senior architectural positions, particularly post graduation. In the UK, first year architecture studios have a 50:50 male to female ratio but the profession remains male-dominated, demonstrating that women are leaving at some point.
  • In the US, reports show that women now make up over 40 per cent of the architecture students in the US but only account for 23 per cent of those working in architecture.
  • In Australia, a 2012 Graduate Careers Australia report revealed gender pay discrepancies that is regularly highlighted as a reason for women, mothers in particular leaving the profession. The architecture and building industry had the highest pay gap across all industries at 17.3 per cent.

At the time, Shelly Penn, former national president of the Australian Institute of Architects called the results “hugely disappointing.”

“Despite similar numbers of female and male graduates for the last three decades, women are less likely to register as architects after graduation,” she said. “As careers progress, the barriers for women increase, as evidenced by lower numbers in senior positions and higher attrition rates; the need for part-time or flexible work hours when juggling career and parenthood also affects women most heavily.”

So rather than contribute to the “why are women leaving architecture” debate, it can be helpful to examine the lives and careers of three successful women in Australia’s architectural industry to see exactly what children have to do with it all. Read more…

With Icepick Tower out, is Vancouver a city of boring architecture?


By Jeff Lee
January 29, 2015, The Vancouver Sun

Does Vancouver play it safe when it comes to the architecture of its downtown buildings? Are we a city largely of cookie-cutter glass reflective towers, eschewing “out there” contemporary designs that may make us uncomfortable?

Wednesday night’s rejection by the Urban Design Panel of Cadillac Fairview’s see-through glass tower next to the Waterfront Station was based in part on the fact the massive, angular building didn’t “fit” with its neighbours and that it was unnecessarily crowding the station.

Michael Geller, who often weighs in on the civic issues of architecture and their relation to public space, has weighed in fairly heavily on Cadillac Fairview’s plans for 555 W. Cordova. His latest post, done shortly after the panel sent the building back for redesign, humorously compares their concerns to that of the O.J. Simpson trial: “IT DOESN’T FIT!”

Humour aside, there were lots of compliments from the panel of the building’s architects, Gordon Gill and Adrian Smith. Here were two internationally-renowned architects who had built hugely iconic buildings. Smith had designed the world’s two tallest structures, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the yet-to-be-finished Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was hard for the panel members not to be impressed with the men sitting before them.

But that didn’t stop every one of the six members of the UDP – architects, developers and landscape architects in their own rights – from finding fault with a design they said did not pay homage to the neighbourhood or the city itself. And they made it clear that they didn’t like the city’s demand that a road allowance for the future waterfront hub – an office district over the CPR tracks that is more of a pipe dream than a reality at this stage – be protected at the expense of the proposed building’s tiny ground floor plate. In insisting the road allowance beside the adjacent Landing Building be kept, the city essentially forced Gill and Smith to design a tower that unnecessarily shadowed and had to be built around the train station. Read more…

Betsy Williamson of Williamson Chong Architects shortlisted for the 2015 Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award

By Staff Canadian Architect
Jan 27, 2014, Canadian Architect

The Architects’ Journal, a leading architectural publication in Britain, has revealed the finalists for both the 2015 Woman Architect of the Year and the Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Awards. Ten up-and-coming stars have made it onto the shortlist for the AJ’s fourth Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award. Betsy Williamson, partner at Williamson Chong Architects in Toronto, Canada, is the only woman from North America on the list.

“Architecture mediates between people and the world around them. I am honoured to be a member of this distinguished group of women who work so hard to make beautiful and engaging spaces,” said Williamson, Partner, Williamson Chong Architects.

The winner will be announced at the Women in Architecture Awards Luncheon on Friday February 27, 2015 at Claridge’s in London.

The Emerging Woman Architect of the Year 2015 shortlist includes: Read more…

Call For Entries: 2015 Canadian Green Building Awards

Entry kits are now available for the 2015 Canadian Green Building Awards, a joint program of SABMag and the Canada Green Building Council. Winning projects will be published in the Summer issue of SABMag and at www.sabmagazine.com, and all projects submitted will be considered for publication in other issues of SABMag or ecoHouse Canada.

The Canadian Green Building Awards recognize excellence in the design and execution of Canadian residential and non-residential buildings of all types [commercial, institutional, industrial and Part 9 residential], including new construction, existing buildings, renovations and interior design projects. Projects need not be certified under a green building rating system.

Deadline to receive submissions is March 6; judging is March 13. Winning entries will be announced at the CaGBC National Conference in Vancouver on June 2.

Entry kits with complete details are found here: http://sabmagazine.com/2014Register.html

Building Envelope Education Program (BEEP) – Module IV Roles & Responsibilities

This course explores the fact that while building envelope performance is highly dependent on many technical factors, it is also influenced by the regulatory and working environments in which the participants in the construction industry operate.

The course outline for Module IV includes:

  • Regulatory Environment for Building Envelope Design
  • Legislation and Professional Liability
  • Professional liability Insurance & Claims Management
  • Building Envelope Consulting: Issues of Integration & Practice
  • Envelope Durability Requirements & Future Directions
  • Professional Ethics & Practice Management
  • Working With Warranty Providers

Date: March 6, 2015, 9:30am – 5:00pm
Location: AIBC Offices, suite 100 – 440 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC
Learning Units (LUs): 6 Core LUs
To register: http://aibc.memberpro.net/main/body.cfm?menu=events

Note: The AIBC reserves the right to cancel courses should there not be enough registrants.

For further information contact Krista Stripnieks,  Professional Development Coordinator at kstripnieks@aibc.ca.