Fast Company — “Architecture’s Great Injustice, According to Jeanne Gang”

July 3, 2018

“At the end of May, I stood with other women architects and allies in a flash mob at the International Venice Architecture Biennale to denounce discrimination and prejudice within our field. The organizers’ manifesto recognized the intersectionality and urgency of the present situation, calling the exhibition “a crucial moment of awakening to promote equitable and respectful treatment of all members of the architectural community irrespective of gender, race, nationality, sexuality, and religion.”

It was powerful to witness how the Architecture Biennale—sometimes criticized as an insular event within an insular field—became a site of solidarity and community that day, explicitly tying the challenges faced by women in architecture into the greater #MeToo movement. It also prompted me to reflect more deeply on how the collective—and needed—catharsis of bringing harassment to the fore can translate into collective action that dissolves inequity and raises respect for women and other marginalized groups in the workplace.

These issues have special resonance in architecture, in which the profession’s notable lack of diversity (for example, just 2% of registered architects in the United States are African American and only 3% are Latino) and prevalence of gender discrimination (72% of women in architecture offices worldwide have reported experiencing sexual discrimination, harassment, or victimization) has and will continue to discourage much-needed young talent. Institutional and grassroots initiatives are underway to address these challenges, but those of us privileged to hold positions of power—from design firm owners to corporate leaders to academic administrators and professors—have a particular responsibility and capability to enact change. What would constitute an authentic show of support for women and other minorities in architecture and all fields, and even a substantial move toward redemption for past discriminatory behaviors? What can we do, immediately, to promote gender equality?

It’s obvious: We can start by looking to the fundamental issue of respect in the workplace—pay.”

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Illustration by Javi Ruiz