Session at the 108th College Art Association of America Annual Conference

Affiliated Society or Committee Name: Committee on Design 
Chelsea Bruner
, Ringling College of Art + Design

Architecture's “woman problem” has received increased attention over the past few years. While other historically male-dominated professions like law, medicine, and finance have made progress towards diversity in the profession and in leadership positions, architectural practice largely remains a man’s world. This has been examined in popular and industry publications, on the TED talk circuit—architect John Cary’s “How Architecture Can Create Dignity for All” given at TEDWomen 2017 has been viewed more than one million times—and in a 2016 study put out by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which highlighted the "challenges" faced by both women and people of color in the profession. The AIA study noted consensus on the under-representation of minorities in the field, but a lack of agreement on gender: “Women strongly believe that there is not gender equity in the industry, but men are divided on the issue.” Clearly, much still needs to be done to change perceptions of the real and well-documented inequities within the design professions, including and beyond architecture.

Taking the under-representation of women in professional practice as a starting point, this session seeks papers that focus on the structure of design as a profession, including educational institutions and offices, and particularly on how the gender makeup of the profession is then reflected in designed-in sexism of the objects and spaces that comprise the built environment. Papers that propose feminist alternatives to the masculinist framework will also be considered.