blog

KENTUCKY WOMEN

IN ARCHITECTURE 

WHO ARE WE?

01.27.19 // Carole Yocum

Here we are: 2019.  Since the last blog entry, there have been a couple of networking events, small groups, slowly getting to know each other.  We have lots of plans to dive into more specific activities in the coming year. 

 

But first:

We’ve been talking quite a bit lately, it seems, about one of catalyst questions, or, the opening question of this entire group:  Who Are We? 

 

I post this question specifically to introduce two parallel events, or activities:

The next scheduled social event is focused around a book reading:  Where Are the Women Architects? (Despina Stratigakos), and the plan to start a #femalekentuckyarchitects profile series, shared on our Instagram account. 

 

The book was published last year, and is a beautiful slim volume published under the Places Books series, by Princeton University Press.  Chapters include topics on the history of women architects, gender equity numbers, Architect Barbie, and architectural prize awards, and the ‘forgotten’ history of women architects, and efforts to reclaim their recognition.  It is dense with discussion topics, beyond the title question. As a companion read, I also suggest a notable book that Stratigakos recognizes as well, Women in American architecture; a historic and contemporary practice.  It alone is a great read on history and specific women, if you are interested in a broader history of the issue. 

 

The lasting subsequent question however, for me, is WHERE ARE WE?  This question has had some notable impact recently, with an article on ArchPaper by Julia Gamolina, asking us to stop asking (“Stop Asking Where all the Female Architects Are; We’re Here”) – that we are HERE.  It was a presented as a response to the New York Times article of 12/15/18, asking “Where are all the Female Architects?”.  Gamolina has also created an impressive series interviewing notable female architects on the site Madame Architect (@madamearchitect) , that lately has been sharing photos with the tag line #wearehere. 

 

Considering she and the group are based in NYC, I do not doubt their sense of things – Yes, WE ARE HERE - after reading the book and articles is accurately felt.  They / We are here.  They / We exist strongly and throughout the architecture world.  My question and sense however, is that remains not precisely the case for us here in the Midwest, south, and specifically Kentucky.  As we’ve already promoted on this website, we are FEW. (#100womenarchitects)                                        

                                                       The first registered woman architect in KY was Louise Leland,1938. 

 

                                                       There was not one other, until 1975.  Almost forty years?! (We are                                                             fairly certain the 2nd registered woman architect was Elizabeth                                                                  Atinay, likely followed by Sarah House Tate, but there’s some research                                                        to be done to clear up conflicting info.)  Along with the rest of society,                                                        the numbers started to shift in the 1970's, to where we are now, which                                                        have statistically flat-lined for a while, despite increased enrollment in universities. 

                                                       We would like to start discovering and sharing who we are, and                                                                 connecting more, here in our beloved Kentucky.  Join us.  Share your                                                           thoughts and taglines with us also.  Where Are We?  Who Are We? 

To that end: we will be discussing this topic, and the book, further on Feb 22nd in Lexington (and are open to a 2nd gathering in Louisville too); If you’ve already come to one of our events, or follow this site on the email subscription, look for a questionnaire soon, to participate in the Who Are We profile series. We look forward to the next steps this group can take together in 2019!

LelandLouise002_WEB[9388].jpg

Louise Leland 

THE BEGINNING

10.25.18 // Carole Yocum

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Members of the Organization of Women in Architecture, 1973

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Men in Ties Looking at Blueprints.

(Katie Halsey)

Hi all. We’re glad you found us. I think I unknowingly spent years looking for something like this, but it wasn’t until late last year (2017) that the idea emerged to form a group for Kentucky women in architecture.  Based on one conversation, reflecting on one reading, we had an idea, a challenge, a goal, that became suddenly very clear:  We needed a group to connect and improve the growth of women in the field of architecture, in the state of Kentucky. 

 

What kick-started this idea was a chat about the numbers and statistics presented in NCARB’s annual report, By the Numbers (www.ncarb.org/nbtn2017).  I had never looked at this document before, and we all can guess at the general summary: that women and minorities are significantly underrepresented within the field.  Yes, we know it’s a man’s world traditionally.  One version of my career could be summarized by the image of me, plus 15 men in a construction trailer. That’s what I joke is my “every day”. 

 

But, reading the simple numbers started to make a new and fresh impact on me. Women, across the board, represent about 25% of registered architects. While the percentages are ever-improving, Kentucky ranks very low amid the states, representing only about 13.5% registered female architects.  The total registered architects in Kentucky is about 100 (there are about 736 total registered architects in the state, not counting reciprocal licenses).  When I considered the fact that there are only about 110,000 architects across the U.S., things felt shockingly clear.  The women-registered architects in KY are less than .1% of the total architects. Point 1.  Adding in another 100 or so women who are in the field, on their way (or not) to being licensed, and we are still not even a quarter percent of the total architects out there. 

 

It’s no wonder I’ve felt out of place most of my career. I realized I never had the role model I needed.  These numbers felt very personal and eye-opening.  We became inspired.  To provide paths for change.  To provide and help guide a growing generation of newly focused, aware, strong and vocal network of female leaders in our field.  That’s why we’re here.  And I’m hoping its at least part of why you’re here too.  We need each other, because this work is hard, life takes its inevitable convoluted paths, and nothing helps more than knowing you have support, and a voice that is heard. 

 

We envision a lot of potential for the Ky WiA group. We are holding monthly gatherings, with Louisville and Lexington as home bases.  We want to shift the already moving stats and numbers, together.  Among the many ideas we’ve put out on the table are: networking socials; mentoring groups; book discussions; how-to workshops; group outings to other allied arts/creative/design events; history lecturers; social media profiles of Kentucky-based women in the field, participation in charitable events; movie nights; and an open-ended list of workshop and learning events.

 

We’ve done quite a bit of information gathering and research on how other cities have formed WiA groups, and while many are associated as a committee of AIA, our choice right now is to be a separate entity, not requiring membership to AIA to find new mentors and friends among our select group of women in this state.  Our intent is for this group to be for women trained and working in the field of architecture. You don’t have to be registered yet.  Or even on the path.  We want this to be an inclusive group for establishing supportive networks across the state for women.  We can all expand each other’s experiences for the better.    

 

“Stand together.  Have a look around at one another.  We are the future.” 

Jane Smith – Spacesmith 

https://www.ncarb.org/blog/elevate-women-architecture-have-a-look-around

 

 

RESOURCES – a short list:

 

Among the many groups and resources we have discovered the past year, a few standouts are listed below:  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some articles: