Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The great debate: Is ‘female architect’ an offensive title?

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architecture and design

As published on CNN.com, in a controversial opinion editorial published by design magazine Dezeen last month, Dorte Mandrup made a bold declaration.

“I am not a female architect. I am an architect.”
The award-winning Danish architect, and founder of the Copenhagen-based practice Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, called for the abolishment of “worthy lists and exhibitions” that celebrate only women — as if they operate in a different sphere to men.
The article sparked a fiery conversation on social media — on both sides of the fence — about gender, sexism and equality.
CNN invited Mandrup to debate these issues with Angela Brady: a past president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and chair of Women in Architecture, who advocates for the very women-celebrating schemes that provoke Mandrup.
Here’s how their tête-à-tête via Skype went.

First question, should you be called a female architect?

AB: When I first started out in architecture I did not want Ms. or Mrs. before my name. I just wanted A.M. Brady. When I came to London to work, I thought: “This must be the great land of equality.” But it wasn’t. It was much harder for women to get anywhere in architecture in the 80s, 90s, and the noughties.
It’s a lot easier now, but if it hadn’t been for pressure groups saying: “Hey, let the women in,” or shouting, “This isn’t quite fair,” things would be worse than they are today.
DM: I get pretty provoked when I am referred to as a female architect. We need to start seeing women as fully part of the architecture realm. We can compete with the boys. Let’s discuss, why don’t we have more women on the jury? Why do we accept there are competitions with only men-owned companies?

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