Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Better, safer, more humane: Why female architects should be building cities

Toronto skyline


Let's start with the unlit parking lots at night: How many men think consciously about carrying their keys in their hands so they can get their car opened quickly, or use them as a weapon? And while many more dads are sharing in the experience, moms still spend the most time pushing the stroller down the street. So does that mean that having more female architects would result in brighter, friendlier and more humane cities?

Christine Murray, the editor of the Architect's Journal in England, says a female eye would transform our urban centres – making them better designed and more livable.

"Women have a unique perspective on the world," Murray told The Telegraph, "and it is not to say that men cannot design excellent cities, or a good nursery or workplace, but everybody would benefit from designs by both halves of the gene pool."

Story continues below advertisement

Originally from Toronto, Murray and some other leading female architects argue that lack of women in the male-dominated profession has limited the people-friendly development of green spaces and schools.

Their comments, reported in the Telegraph, were really meant to highlight discrimination in architecture – a profession in which, a British survey recently found, two inthree female architects reported "'insidious' discrimination or bullying by men during their careers." In Britain, for instance, only 20 per cent of registered architects are women, the article reported. And as a post in observed last year, it's hard to know exactly how women might change cities, since none of the world's "starchitects" are actually female.

The Telegraph chose to headline the story by saying that having a women build a city would make them "prettier," which is not actually a word that any of the female architects used, and had a sexist twinge all on its own. The goal of having functional and elegant urban spaces is hardly gender specific – the real problem is that too few of one gender actually have input into their design.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨