2013 January/February Tracings

Page 11

Jan/Feb 2013

members. In the mid-eighties, OWA gained much publicity with its House Tours that showcased buildings and landscapes designed by women. The tours were a huge success.

women in mid-career but it is now open to all members as a time for renewing friendships, relaxation, reflection, and personal and professional growth.

Another important program is the annual weekend retreat at a lovely ranch in the wine country north of San Francisco. Marda Stothers initiated it in 1988 for

Besides providing opportunity for lifelong friendships and career support, OWA created many important programs to benefit architects and design professionals in general, not only women. For example, one of the outstanding contributions was the Mock Exam, intended to prepare and train young architects for the difficult California State licensing test. The mock exam was so successful that OWA sold it after some years to the American Institute of Architects. Another significant contribution is providing health insurance to uninsured professionals. In 1976, after lengthy investigations, Janet Crane set up a health plan for OWA members. Making it available to all architects and designers in small offices, as well as unemployed architects, is a great service to the community because affordable health care was not easily available in the United States. As OWA approaches its 40th anniversary in 2013, I would like to look at two factors, selected from many others, to comment on its condition: the professional environment and the internal organizational conditions. The professional environment for women in architecture has definitely changed in the last forty years. More women architects practice with admirable records and careers, as employees or in their own firms, and in specializations that make them leaders in their field. At a presentation of the film "A Girl is A Fellow Here" ~ 100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright and the ensuing discussion, a woman architect in her early forties stated that she had never experienced discrimination. Wow! I would like to congratulate her but I am also a little ambivalent. While I would like to believe that she is right, there are many reports which show that women architects still earn about 20% less than their male counterparts, just to point out one indicator of many discriminatory practices. And what about the flight of women architects into other fields? Among the changes in the environment for women in architecture are some in several institutions that – to a lesser or greater degree - focus on women. The AIA has become more welcoming: starting by electing a few women to serve as national and chapter presidents and women being awarded the prestigious AIA Fellowship, to offering special programs such as the ongoing Forum for Women Architects of the AIA