Gender and Architecture


About six years ago, we looked for someone who could write the foreword to our book, _Con_posiciones: 20 approaches to Peruvian architecture_. After some discussion, we found the person and sent them a draft of the book. A few days after we received a call that I remember more or less went like this: “Jorge, I have some qualms about writing the foreword, one of which is that there are hardly any women among those interviewed.”

The 30 architects, whose conversations appear in the aforementioned book, had been selected intuitively: ex-professors of ours, or people whose work we admired. We knew it was arbitrary sample, but we thought it was representative nonetheless. However, of the 30 architects, only two were women. And honestly, it hadn’t come to our attention as an issue.

_Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, architects behind UTEC campus (Photo: Facebook)_

During my career, only one my professors of Design (out of 25) was a woman. Coming across female architects in magazines or books was rare, especially at this time. And in Peruvian books about architectural history or theory? Forget about it. Although it’s no secret that architecture has been a male-dominated career, this problem [of gender inequality]is not exclusive to this profession. Here I don’t have the space to give reasons, but if you’re interested in this topic, I can recommend the a recent article published in The Architectural Review, “Women in Architecture,” that brings up some interesting points. Are things changing? Definitely. More and more management positions in real estate or construction are held by women. More often there are female architects holding key positions in municipalities or other government bodies. Today, among the architecture professors where I teach, I dare say that half are women.

Even for an architect like myself, the following fact was surprising: In the recent public architectural contests, the majority of the winners have been from design offices directed – or co directed – by women.

The recent extension of MALI [Lima’s Museum of Art] by Mariana Legui (Llama Urban Design); the Museo Nacional [National Museum] by Alexia Leon; Museo de Sitio de Machu Picchu by Michelle Llona (Llona-Zamora); Sinchi Roca Park by Maya Ballen (masunostudio); and those already built, such as Museum of Pachacamac by Patricia Llosa (LlosaCortegana), and Lugar de la Memoria by Sandra Barclay (Barclay&Crousse). Add to that the new UTEC [Lima’s University of Technology and Engineering] campus by Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell who, although Irish, raise the statistics.

This is unprecedented, especially in Peru, where women are marginalized from this part of the professional world.
“In the recent public architectural competitions, the majority of the winners have been from design offices directed – or co-directed – by women.”