Are you aware that Mattel’s Barbie® I Can Be™ series came out with Architect Barbie? The doll came with a drawing tube, a model of the Dream House, and hardhat in 2011. She was accessorized with a pink bangle bracelet and black framed glasses. She wore black booties and an A-line dress complete with the silhouette of a skyline at the hem. What can’t Barbie do? Throughout history we find many women who defined what it means to be female and an Architect.
It is difficult to find a succinct history of women in architecture, and that reality by itself highlights some of the challenges women still face in the industry today. While records of female architects can be found, the extent of their contribution is often vague. The percentage of women practicing appears to go up and down while relatively remaining the same now as in the 1980’s1. Meanwhile, the percentage of architecture students that identify as female has risen significantly. In many schools, they make up about half of the class.
If I said the name Frank Lloyd Wright, you would probably picture the Prairie Style that he is famous for, but how many of you know his lesser-known accomplice, Marion Mahoney? She was not the only woman influencing well-known architects of the 1900’s. Famous names like Mies and Corbusier employed, worked with, or married women who influenced the industry. Would we have the iconic furniture we have today if Charles Eames worked independent of Rey’s influence? These women blazed the trail for professionals like the late Zaha Hadid, Liz Diller, even Maya Lin, and many others.
Whether it’s Barbie, a female Architect from the turn of the century, or a high school graduate, women can be architects too! I know that I personally feel a responsibility to the latter to leave a legacy of what is possible and to continue breaking down barriers and stigmas.
Since graduating from Kansas State in 2012, Liz has gained experience from a variety of fields within the building industry. From drafting at a metal building manufacturer to working at architecture firms to assisting a real estate broker/developer, she has always had a passion for influencing the built environment. As a designer at Schemmer, Liz enjoys learning new things and refining her skills with help from other licensed professionals. She is pursuing an architectural license and hopes to continue to shape the spaces and places around her in a positive way.