On women without men
It was delightful to see the winners announced of the AJ’s Women in Architecture Awards, and to see that they received such a positive reaction. One thing that made the results so good was that none of these women – Zaha Hadid, Cindy Walters & Michal Cohen, and Hannah Lawson – are in practice with husbands. We don’t need to know about their personal circumstances in order to explain their professional lives.
There is a great tradition of women architects setting up in partnership with their husbands, and it has much to recommend it, melding private and personal lives seamlessly. And these women certainly don’t necessarily play second fiddle. In many cases they are the more outspoken, more public figures – fit your own names in here. And of course, many architects work so hard that they never have a chance to meet anybody beyond architecture school or practice. Even Jane Drew (it was the Jane Drew Prize that Zaha won) was in partnership with not one but two husbands.
So the husband and wife model can be admirable, even if tough for other members of the team. But in awards designed not just to recognise women, but to make life more manageable and hence the profession more attractive to women, to help women succeed in what is still a shamefully male world, then it is great to applaud those women who are doing it without men – whatever the support structures may or may not be behind the scenes.