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1

International Women’s Day after the UN decision to enact it as such in 1975, in commemoration of women’s struggle to gain participation on an even footing with men in society and their comprehensive development as human beings.

2

MUXÍ, Zaida: Mujeres más allá del umbral. Book in print. Barcelona: DPR, 2018

3

In 1962, the title was recognised for Margarita Brender Rubira (1919-2000), who studied in Rumania and was the first female Catalan association member. https://undiaunaarquitecta3.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/margarita-brender-rubira-1919-2000/

4

MUXÍ, Zaida Op. Citada

5

VILA PLANAS, Montserrat “Una huelga de mujeres que cambia la conciencia universal sobre la igualdad, los derechos y las relaciones entre los géneros” http://www.sinpermiso.info/textos/una-huelga-de-mujeres-que-cambia-la-conciencia-universal-sobre-la-igualdad-los-derechos-y-las

As an architect, I will be striking on 8 March 2018

“I do not wish for women to have power over men, but over themselves”.

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)

“All of the misfortunes of the world come from the forgetting and the despising until today of the natural and indispensible rights of being a woman”.

Flora Tristán (1803-1844)

The 8th of March 1 is international women’s day. Actually, the Spanish version puts it in the singular form, but I like to use the plural because we are many and diverse. I assume you know, feminist movements have put out a call for us to stop working both in sphere of care and reproduction and in the sphere of work that is remunerated for production.

Yes. I am going to write about architecture and women, and write about why to go out on strike. For many in our profession, there are no differences between men and women, and therefore there is no need to talk about gender or about women, nor is there a need to go out on strike. I contend that there is, and will provide a few reasons.

Women’s presence among the various spheres of architecture is totally unbalanced. It’s not a question of time, of thinking that the time will come when men and women are represented equally in the profession. The advances made by women over history teach us that it is not time but rather struggle that has enabled us to enjoy the rights we have. Women’s presence is nothing new in the profession. It goes back to the very beginnings of formal education in the profession and we could also find examples of when the profession was learnt in travels and in trades. Katherine Briçonnet (1494-1526), Plautilla Bricci  (1616-1690) and Elizabeth Wilbraham (1632-1705) all stand as examples.

The first women to study architecture were Mary Louisa Page at the University of Illinois in 1878, and Margaret Hicks at Cornell University in 1880, both in the United States of America. In Europe the first women architects were trained in Finland at the end of the 19th century in 1887, and the first female graduate was Signe Hornborg (1862-1916), accepted as a “special” student, in 1890.2

In Spain, since 1757 architecture degrees have been issued by Madrid’s Academia de San Fernando for studies in painting, sculpture and architecture. As of 1847, the Special Studies of Architecture programme was created. These studies evolved until in 1857 the School of Architecture, today’s ETSAM, was established. In Barcelona between 1817 and 1850 there was a class of architecture whose students had to get their credentials validated by the Academia de San Fernando. Between 1850 and 1870, the School of Masters in Building Works operated until the Barcelona School or Architecture was established in 1875.

However, for a woman to graduate from studies in architecture in Spain it would take until 1936, when Matilde Ucela y Maórtua (1912-2008) earned her degree from the Madrid School of Architecture. In 1940, she was followed by Rita Fernández Queimadelos (1911-2008). There was no other female graduate from that School until, in 1960,  Milagros Rey Hombre (1930-2014) earned her degree. In the Barcelona School of Architecture, the first architect was Mercedes Serra Barenys, who graduated in 1964.3

In South America, the first woman to earn a degree was Julia Guarino (1897-1985) in Uruguay in 1923. It is no wonder if we take into account that women there earned the right to vote through the 1917 Constitution, although they had to wait until 1938 to exercise this right. The first woman to receive a degree in Architecture in Argentina was Filandia Pizzul (1902 – date of decease unknown) in 1927 from the University of Buenos Aires, where studies of architecture were instated 50 years prior, in 1874.4

In South American Universities, since the mid 1980s, half of the students of architecture have been women. This proportion was not reached until the first decade of the 21st century in Catalonia in the Vallès and Barcelona Schools of Architecture.

However, it is not only the numbers that count, but that fact that all of us together need to talk about visibility and recognition for those who came before us so that we don’t make the mistake of thinking that each generation is the first of the first.

Labour, recognition and salary issues as well as harassment and violence denounced in other spheres are also present in the world of architecture.

According to the Survey Women in Architecture conducted by The Architects’ Journal of Great Britain, and based on 1500 replies, more than half of women and a fifth of men say they have suffered some sort of sexual discrimination or harassment. The survey also makes reference to pressure being brought to bear for becoming pregnant. We have probably all heard or know of female architects who have not been hired once it is known that she is a mother or intends to become one, although asking this question in a job interview is prohibited.

 

According to the Survey Women in Architecture conducted by The Architects’ Journal of Great Britain, and based on 1500 replies, more than half of women and a fifth of men say they have suffered some sort of sexual discrimination or harassment. The survey also makes reference to pressure being brought to bear for becoming pregnant. We have probably all heard or know of female architects who have not been hired once it is known that she is a mother or intends to become one, although asking this question in a job interview is prohibited.

According to the  2016 report on the status of the profession, women’s presence in the classroom is not represented in equal conditions in the workforce. In Europe there are some 600,000 architects, of whom 38% are women. In Spain, the figure is 28%. Long-term analysis of income by gender shows that significant differences persist between men and women. This same report indicates that men working full time earn 48% more than full-time women. Men’s income has increased more quickly than women’s, meaning that the gender gap in this regard has spread over the last few years.

Of course, like in other professions, in architecture women are a majority of part time workers. They are less often members of Architects’ Associations, and, since the crisis, they have dropped out of work more often than men, according to the Catalan Official Architects’ Association data put together by Carla Habif-Hassid in September 2016. Female architects are also under-represented as university professors. This scant representation has a negative impact on the professional role models that women see in the classroom. In one way or another, if they have children, women have to choose whether to devote time to their careers outside the classroom and abandon teaching as an unaffordable luxury. Meanwhile, men have an easy time combining both teaching and professional work outside the classroom when they have children.

There is also a gender gap in the bonuses that male and female architects receive, according to The Architects’ Journal. Data from the United Kingdom indicate that male managers earn 13,000 sterling pounds more. For partners and staff at the top level in their organisations, the gap is even wider, ranging from 70,000 sterling pounds for women and 120,000 for men.

Having children becomes an obstacle for women in their careers. The workforce is organised in such a way that work-life balance is impossible for women, on whom the burden to care for their children falls primarily.  The alternative is dropping out of their career.

As I mentioned at the outset, we have more than enough reasons to go on strike.

This year, unprecedented action has been called for on the 8th of March. Women from around the world have called a Feminist Strike. A strike to put an end to the risk of poverty, to unbearably high unemployment rates that are 3,5% higher for women than for men, to the wage gap and to male chauvinist violence. This means focusing on people’s lives, attaching value to the care that is given, day in and day out, to children, men and women, to all of those inhabiting this planet. This care, in the private sphere and in feminised labour spheres alike, serves as a foundation for humankind to attain its capability to progress in knowledge and science to feed the production machine.5

 

Notas de página
1

International Women’s Day after the UN decision to enact it as such in 1975, in commemoration of women’s struggle to gain participation on an even footing with men in society and their comprehensive development as human beings.

2

MUXÍ, Zaida: Mujeres más allá del umbral. Book in print. Barcelona: DPR, 2018

3

In 1962, the title was recognised for Margarita Brender Rubira (1919-2000), who studied in Rumania and was the first female Catalan association member. https://undiaunaarquitecta3.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/margarita-brender-rubira-1919-2000/

4

MUXÍ, Zaida Op. Citada

5

VILA PLANAS, Montserrat “Una huelga de mujeres que cambia la conciencia universal sobre la igualdad, los derechos y las relaciones entre los géneros” http://www.sinpermiso.info/textos/una-huelga-de-mujeres-que-cambia-la-conciencia-universal-sobre-la-igualdad-los-derechos-y-las

Autora:
(Argentina, 1964) Vive en Barcelona y nació en Buenos Aires, arquitecta por la FADU-UBA en 1988 y doctora arquitecta por la Universidad de Sevilla en 2002; profesora del Departamento de urbanismo y ordenación del territorio de ETSAB-UPC. Entre 2015 y 2019 ha sido Directora de urbanismo, vivienda, medioambiente, ecología urbana, espacio público, vía pública y civismo de Santa Coloma de Gramenet. Especialista en arquitectura y urbanismo con perspectiva de género y feminista. Autora de entre otros: La arquitectura de la ciudad global (Gustavo Gili, 2004) Arquitectura y política. Ensayos para mundos alternativos (Gustavo Gili, 2011) y Mujeres, casas y ciudades. Más allá del umbral (DPR-barcelona, 2018)

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