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Auckland University seeks information from women architects

Press Release – University of Auckland
What happens to New Zealand’s women architects after they graduate? This is the central question behind the launch of a new website, Architecture + Women (www.architecturewomen.org.nz [1]).

The website seeks to capture the Who, When, Where and How of this country’s women architecture graduates. It has been founded by University of Auckland architecture alumna Sarah Treadwell, who heads the School of Architecture and Planning; along with Lynda Simmons, a registered architect earning her Masters of Architecture at the University; registered architect Megan Rule and Julie Wilson, a practising graduate of architecture.

The information gathered will become part of an “Architecture + Women” exhibition in 2013, a show that will mark the 80th anniversary of NZ’s first female architecture graduate, as well as 120 years of this country’s suffrage movement.

Perhaps even more importantly, the website will serve as a database for female architecture graduates in New Zealand and abroad, increasing opportunities for professional networking, mentoring and publication opportunities.

The idea for the website was born in early 2011, from a conversation between Lynda Simmons and Julie Wilson– who at the time was a mother of three children under five-years and who was concerned that she would never be able to get registered.

“It occurred to me that this is how women architects get lost—the registration process just didn’t account for women trying to juggle running a practice, having babies, paying annual fees and keeping up with registration requirements,” says Lynda, who notes that voluntary suspension is now an option for registered architects. “We needed a way to find each other and increase our visibility as female architects and graduates of architecture.”

The website has been developed thanks to support from The University of Auckland, the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) and the Block Foundation. While the immediate goal is to build a database from which to create the Architecture + Women exhibition (which will be mounted during Auckland Architecture Week 2013), the longer-term objective is to create what Lynda describes as an “umbrella structure” that is owned by all the contributors and works “organically” to promote employment, publication and research.

Dr Sarah Treadwell says there is a general sense of “invisibility” around female architecture graduates— despite their prominence in tertiary education.

“The University’s School of Architecture and Planning has more than 50% representation by female students, who generally do very well, yet there are very few women working in principal roles in architecture firms in New Zealand,” says Head of School, Dr Sarah Treadwell. “The research that we are undertaking at this time, in conjunction with a similar project in Australia, has the potential to identify new patterns of architectural practice for both men and women in the future.”

For more information and to register your details, visit www.architecturewomen.org.nz [1]

The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the School of Architecture and Planning, Elam School of Fine Arts, the Centre for New Zealand Art Research and Discovery (CNZARD), the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.

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