'Designing Women': Gender and the Architectural Profession


190 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-8219-X
DDC 720'.82




Reviewed by James A. Love

James A. Love is a professor of architecture in the Faculty of
Environmental Design and an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering
at the University of Calgary. His latest publication (in press) is the
Illuminating Engineering Society’s Recommended


The authors, faculty of McGill University, review the participation of
Canadian women in the profession (those registered in the provincial
associations) and the discipline of architecture. The period covered is
1920–92, from the decade that saw the first women to join
architectural associations to (presumably) the date of the most recently
available data from Statistics Canada. Both government data and
firsthand interviews with men and women were used to form a picture of
the changes that transpired during this period and to understand them.

As in many areas of male-dominated employment, the initial reaction
ranged from cold to hostile. It is argued that women, more than men,
engaged in a variety of work that extended beyond conventional practice
to areas such as urban planning and historic preservation. Adams and
Tancred contend that only in Quebec did women play a major role in
higher-profile architectural projects. Women also struggled with
conflicts between the irregular hours in practice and desires for a
pattern that would accommodate domestic responsibilities.

The odd part of this book is the conclusion. It fails to mention, even
in passing, the many accomplishments of Canadian women in the 1990s,
which could be considered a breakthrough decade in terms of stardom
(e.g., Patricia Patkau, Brigitte Shim, Anne Cormier) and governance of
the profession, with women assuming leadership roles.


Adams, Annmarie, and Peta Tancred., “'Designing Women': Gender and the Architectural Profession,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/30435.