RIBA establishes first Women in Architecture group of West Midlands
The event to inaugurate this association took place on July 5th at the Birmingham REP heater which included presentations and group discussions about the realm of architecture and was open to women of all levels of experience. It coincided with #EthelDay which celebrates the day Ethel May Charles joined the RIBA Institute as the first female member ever.
The president of RIBA, Jane Duncan, encouraged worldwide participation of female architects such as posting an inspiration item from one of your favorite female architects or by extending the event to your own office. She emphasizes the importance of celebrating the work, thoughts and talent of women in architecture.
Ethel’s determination and hard work has set the way for other women to follow in her footsteps. She was initially not granted a membership at the institute due to a fear that her presence would disrupt the interest of the company. This didn’t take though, when her application was put up to a vote the majority took in her favor. Not long after, her sister became the second woman to achieve a membership.
This event and the formation of the group within RIBA has essentially been inspired by Ethel and other female architects of the early 20thcentury. The purpose of it is to encourage women to continue their passion in the profession. As the level of the profession increases, there is a decrease in the amount of women in practice; at graduate school level there is an even gender ratio but when the levels advance to post graduate and beyond, the amount of female presence significantly decreases.
Victoria Farrow from Birmingham City University is responsible for investigating this trend and prompted RIBA to initiate the group. One goal this group is focused on is expanding the network for women in architecture as well as to be an example for the rest of the United Kingdom to form similar associations. They will also serve as a source of opportunity in the workplace for women after an undergraduate degree is achieved.
For a long time now women have influence in this industry yet it was only last year that the late Zaha Hadid became the first woman to be honored the RIBA Royal Gold Medal. Her work has pushed the borders of architecture and the numerous awards she has been granted are there to back it.
Spanning all the way back from the early 1900s to our current day and time, many female architects like Ethel and Zaha have played a vital role working towards what RIBA’s Women-In-Architecture group plans to expand and spread.