The following survey seeks to understand how libraries can better support female architecture students. Participation is completely voluntary, and consent may be withdrawn at any time by stopping to complete the survey. No directly identifying personal information will be collected. More information in the article below.
The low rate of professional women architects—25%—is especially alarming considering 40% of architecture students are female. As the engine for creative research, architecture libraries can play an important role in the architecture school experience and assist in supporting female architecture students by leveraging their collections, spaces, and programming to empower women that plan to enter the architecture profession.
Schools of architecture historically have not done as much as they could to acknowledge or prepare women for the gender inequities in the profession. Consequently, female students in architecture do not always feel the gender difference while in school but can hit the glass ceiling hard once they enter the profession. To better prepare female students for these inequities, librarians are uniquely positioned to better prepare them for the profession by “putting the right book in the right hands”.
Diversity, inclusion, and equity have been a growing concern in libraries, reflective of the movement worldwide. Many librarians have undergone or are undergoing collection analyses to determine which subject areas need to be developed in order to better represent marginalized communities. For example, at Virginia Tech, the approval plan was updated to acquire more materials that document exhibitions by or about underrepresented artists and there is an increasing focus on collecting materials from independent, small press publishers that are more likely to feature these authors in their publications.
Other actions that some librarians have taken is to create tools that bring awareness to these items in their respective collections. One way of doing this is through book displays or research guides that highlight materials related to women in architecture. Research guides, such as the Women Artists, Architects, and Designers guide at UCLA or the Women in Architecture and Designguide at Virginia Tech, can easily be linked in course syllabi or embedded in course management software. These tools send a message to students that not only do these items exist in our collections, but they are worthy of our research and attention. On a similar note, in response to the revolt against systematic racism, several librarians have created research guides on social justice like the Social Justice and the Built Environmentguide at Texas Tech University, Readings on Race and Justice guide at University of Buffalo, or Library x Social Justice at Virginia Tech.
Expanding and bringing awareness to library collections on diverse groups has immense potential for addressing social justice and gender inequality issues in the architecture profession. These collections are not only about the groups themselves but unpack a variety of social and political issues. Collections that broadcast women in architecture, also often raise awareness to the issues women face in the workplace such as equal pay, work-life balance, sexual and familial harassment, and moving into leadership roles. Furthermore, they encourage the understanding of issues beyond gender relations. In many of these collections, race relations, social movements, class struggles, and the role of sexuality are all apparent. Thus, libraries can be agents for change and should leverage the impact their collections, spaces, and programming can have on transforming society.
To help excel the transformation of libraries as agents for change, please consider sharing a confidential study being conducted at Virginia Tech (IRB #20-343). The study seeks to understand how libraries can better support female architecture students and better prepare them for success in the profession. Institutions that have distributed the survey have seen a high response rate, indicating a significant potential for impact.
All bachelor, master, and doctoral architecture students that identify as female are invited to respond to the survey. Participation is completely voluntary, and consent may be withdrawn at any time by stopping to complete the survey. No directly identifying personal information will be collected. The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and will remain open until November 20, 2020.
Founded in 1912 by 10 charter members, ACSA is an international association of architecture schools preparing future architects, designers, and change agents. Our membership includes all of the accredited professional degree programs in the United States and Canada, as well as international schools and 2- and 4-year programs. Together ACSA schools represent some 7,000 faculty educating more than 40,000 students.
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