In September 2018, twelve of us sat down with crisps, wine and warm beer to share and think together. Women working in planning and place making, design education and outreach, journalism, sustainable transport, engineering and architecture were invited to the table.
We began to talk about the hurdles women face as they enter and progress in the design professions. We considered thelack of diversity in design and assessed how that same lack of equity permeates and crystallises in the spaces and buildings that get built. One of the issues we kept returning to was the lack of representation in the built environment professions.
We considered the lack of diversity in design and assessed how that same lack of equity permeates and crystallises in the spaces and buildings that get built.
Since our very first meetings, we started developing campaigns to upend the status-quo, inquiring which actors—and what types of projects— are given priority in contemporary design discourse. We found that consistent patterns exist among design-related sectors: awards are most commonly granted to male-lead practices;1 projects developed by men are subsequently granted greater press coverage than those projected by women;2 male practitioners are more easily invited to give lectures and interviews and it is easier for them to publish their writings—an interconnected cycle of success that has historically overlooked women in design.
Our campaigns invert these gendered tendencies. Our projects include WikiEdit sessions, the Alternative List and, presently, Women’s Work: London Map. This latest project celebrates women who play a pivotal role in shaping the capital's built environment.
We started developing campaigns to upend the status-quo, inquiring which actors—and what types of projects— are given priority in contemporary design discourse.
In order to subvert spatial and mapping gendered imbalance, Women’s Work: London Map, is a study that embraces crowd sourced suggestions and puts forward an alternative view of projects and role models worthy of recognition. We received over 150 nominations of projects for the map andinvited experts Stephanie Edwards, Adam Nathanial Furman, Deborah Broomfield and Laura Mark to carry out a rigorous judging process that whittled the projects down to 30 schemes that are now featured.
Women’s Work: London Map is a study that embraces crowd sourced suggestions and puts forward an alternative view of projects and role models worthy of recognition.
The printed map—with graphic design work by EDIT—invites people to escape screens and go out into the city to visit built works. Pin points and postcodes mark the location of projects and buildings, enabling people to explore the city and its female-lead design works by foot and bike.It is a learning resource for members of the public, practitioners and a next generation of designers.
Make sure to get your hands on the first ever Women’s Work: London Map, which can be purchased here. And remember: throughout March—Women’s History Month—raise a glass and honour women of past and present.
Read the whole "Part W at Work" column by part W Collective.
Part W is an action group that campaigns to raise the profile of women in the built environment by celebrating and drawing attention to women’s projects and skills. It seeks to bring about change in how women’s work in placemaking, design and architecture is valued and recognised—and challenges policies that cause gender discrimination in built environments. The organisation is run by a core steering group of ten women who work across the sectors of architectural design, sustainable transport, planning, design education and journalism.
1 See Liz Walder, Going for Gold: Looking at the gender imbalance of recipients of major architectural awards and prizes (Wordcatcher Publishing, 2019).
2 Sarah Ackland, Revisiting the Collections: The Forgotten Women, see [online]