Out of deep respect for the women who every day must grapple with sexism in architecture, I’d like to use this space to specifically address the men of the profession.

All are welcome to read along, of course, and to respond.


Let’s be honest: The architecture profession still smells like a men’s club. We may not like to think so, but it’s a statistical fact. And can we admit that the burgeoning #MeToo movement makes many of us … uncomfortable? Ever since the Harvey Weinstein story broke last year, it felt as though we were holding our collective breath, waiting for architecture’s turn—for our turn—under the harsh light of truth.

The moment finally arrived on March 13, thanks to the five women who bravely went public with sexual-misconduct allegations against Richard Meier in The New York Times. I hope we, the men of architecture, will honor their courage by responding with open hearts and great humility.

To borrow a line from that great agitator Karl Marx, “man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” Where gender parity in architecture is concerned, brother, those conditions and relations aren’t good. And we have no one to blame but ourselves. For the full 5,000-year history of the discipline, men have excluded or belittled women by sheer weight of numbers, and we maintained the advantage through the domineering culture we created.

I, for one, can’t claim a guiltless conscience: I haven’t maintained a perfectly non-hormonal, bias-free level of professionalism at every turn of my career. Neurochemistry may be largely innate, but testosterone cannot govern our behavior. An imperfect nature doesn’t relieve any man of the obligation to treat women with fairness and respect, as the equals they are.

Never forget: Social equity remains one of the great moral struggles of our age. Numerous forces are bringing about unprecedented and sometimes acrimonious relations among the genders, not to mention among different cultures, races, and classes, and the architecture profession must do everything possible to smooth the way for everyone.

I don’t have all the answers. Neither do you. That’s not a cop-out. At this juncture, probably the best thing the men of architecture can do is shut up and give women the floor. If you’re uncomfortable about #MeToo and other social movements, that’s a good thing—accept it. Discomfort is precisely what men need to experience. We need to spend time sitting quietly with ears open, heeding our female peers and getting a taste of what they face daily: the feeling of being unwelcomed and disempowered. That would be one step toward true empathy, growing as individuals, and supporting the struggle for equity in architecture.

The ARCHITECT team has been planning since last year to devote our May 2018 print issue to diversity and activism. And for the foreseeable future, both in print and online, ARCHITECT will provide a dedicated platform for women and other underrepresented groups in the profession to relate their experiences. We hope you’ll join us.