gender neutral: not really

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Last night I attended the first birthday bash for SeattlePI.com, the offspring of the failed newspaper (read more about that here or here). Two young women bloggers joined me at my table, one of whom is an architectural student at Yale, on a sabbatical. She related to us how the dean of their architecture school is constantly complaining about young women in architecture school, especially those with children; his reasoning being that they all want to be mothers and raise children and so will never be successful architects. The astonishing thing is that the dean of my architecture school told us something almost identical over twenty years ago. The profession has hardly changed since.

She theorized that it takes a generation for change to happen, as most architects hit their stride at around age 50. I turned 50 recently and I haven't seen a real change. My own problem is that I took the Dean's advice, so many years ago, and waited until the nest was empty to try to start my career, not to best result so far.

What's rather amusing - or perhaps sad - depending on your point of view, is that even men are acknowledging the lack. I'll put a few anecdotal examples out. At a conference last year, I attended a panel discussion. One man decided to diversify our table of women. He pointed out to us that the panel was "all white men". The rest of us were so accustomed to that being the norm that we hadn't really noticed. The same is true in project pursuit interviews. The lead team members participating in the interview are all white men. With a public client diversity is a qualifying requirement, worth points in the point award system. The men know this, and worry, but it seldom makes a difference. Just a few observations, that's all.

Oh, and one more thing - there was never any such thing as "flaneuse". That's why I'm "citywalker".

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