Originally published on CaliforniaHomeDesign.com
When the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently started a petition asking architecture firms to increase representation and participation of women to 50 percent, the association joined an international chorus of voices asking, “Where are the women?”
When it comes to women in architecture, the numbers just don’t add up. According to a recent article in Architectural Record, 40 percent of architecture students in this country are females—but women make up only 23 percent of working architects. The numbers shrink at the upper levels of the profession, where it is estimated that just 17 percent of the people leading architecture firms are female.
We put the question to three women who have beaten the odds to make it in a world where they are often the only female in the room. Anne Fougeron (center), principal at Fougeron Architecture, says that underlying sexism keeps women from reaching the top. “Even today, when I walk onto a job site, contractors ask me if I’m an interior designer,” she says. She adds that the glass ceiling becomes even harder to break when you factor in elements such as an antifamily climate, long days, and years with little pay. “It seems that most architects do their best work after practicing for 50 years, and if you take time out to raise a family, it’s hard to get to that point,” she says.