One thing history has proved is that men dominated most professional industries and unfortunately design is no different. But if history has proven anything it has shown us there is a certain breed of women who break through the so called ‘glass ceiling’ and not only become an influential success but inspires and creates a new path for other women or minorities to make the world a more rounded place. Even though the gender gap is closing in architecture schools with just as many women graduating as men, equality is still a long way off as research proves women are paid less and hired less than their male counterparts.
Take Emmeline Pankhurst for instance yes, she was no designer, but she broke the mould and through sheer determination she changed the course of history. Bras were burnt, hunger strikes took place and buildings were burnt down and vandalised so that women were finally heard and took notice of. Female designers have had a similar fight and it has taken women with an inner fire just like Pankhurst to become successful in what is deemed to be a man’s world. The landscape of the architectural world especially has a brutal reputation of treating women far less than equal.
A phrase so often heard when a female designer reaches the dizzy heights of success is ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ a phrase coined when minorities such as women can only reach so far in their careers or a hierarchy. A so-called invisible barrier stopping them from achieving what only men could achieve. This extraordinary condescension is a battle, women in design and architecture must face daily. To change this patronising culture a certain level of comprehension must take place. The world today is a very different environment to what it was 100 years ago but the attitude towards women has not moved at the pace Emmeline Pankhurst would have hoped for.
Women have brought a fresh perspective to commercial interior design, and their designs have been innovative and unique. Women have brought new ideas and concepts to the field, challenging traditional design norms and creating new trends. Women designers have always had a knack for detail, and they have used this to create spaces that are both beautiful and functional.
Zaha Hadid, was the most influential and ground breaking architect of the 21st century, encountered many struggles in her career, as did other female architects before her. She was straight talking, direct and domineering. In articles her gender was always commented on. Despite the challenges, women like Denise Scott Brown, Amanda Levete, and Farshid Moussavi are paving the way for future generations of female designers and the future is optimistic.
While women in design have faced significant obstacles and discrimination, they have nonetheless made significant contributions to the field. Their innovative designs and fresh perspectives challenge traditional norms and pave the way for future generations of designers. By recognizing the accomplishments of women in design and continuing to fight against inequality, we can create a more inclusive and diverse field of design.
International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to thank and reflect on these inspirational women who have paved the way for an even playing field. We’ll be raising a glass to you today Emmeline Pankhurst!