It’s a man’s world – or is it? There’s a fair few women around too – about 49% of the population in fact. But while women make up nearly half of the people on the planet, they don’t make up half of powerful or senior positions. Which is why perhaps we still need movements like International Women’s Day (IWD) and Women’s History Month – because girls really are as good as boys.
IWD, runs every year and can trace its beginnings back to 1908. Its point is to ‘forge a more gender inclusive role’, where achievements are celebrated on merit. It might seem odd in the 21st century to still be talking about the need for equality, but it was less than 100 years ago, that women in the UK got the same voting rights as men.
There’s no doubt that women’s equality of franchise is a massive achievement for democracy – but history’s full of girl power – and it’s not just in the world of politics. And to celebrate all those diverse achievements, March is Women’s History Month. Predominantly recognised in America, it’s now being celebrated around the world, including the UK.
Of course, in reality, it doesn’t matter how much we strive for a level playing field, there are some industries where the differences are simply chasms of inequality. Like the world of transport for example – just a measly 0.5% of all truck drivers are women. Construction is another area where women are in the minority with just 2% in manual roles. It’s only slightly better in the related world of architecture where women make up less than a quarter of all qualified architects.
But it’s not all testosterone and bawdy banter (not that we’re stereotyping) a number of women are creating some well-designed waves in the architectural field. And perhaps one of the most celebrated was British architect, Zaha Hadid – winner of numerous awards, she had been hailed as the ‘greatest female architect in the world today’. Hadid’s work can be found all over the globe – from the Guangzhou opera house in China, the Vitra fire station in Germany to schools and the jaw-dropping London aquatic centre right here in the UK.
Architecture though, isn’t just about jaw dropping public buildings, it’s all around us and one way we can all enjoy good design, is in our homes, and two female architects have made themselves champions of this cause – Angela Brady and Alison Brooks. Both are prominent architects who just also happen to be women.
Brady’s passion is for sustainable design and she was president of RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) between 2011 and 2013. Brady, also doesn’t tip-toe around important issues either, calling modern new builds ‘noddy boxes’ and she’s made it her mission to get builders to really think about the qualities that individuals and families want in their homes. And that’s a consideration that Alison Brooks, also feels strongly in favour of – she’s won various awards for her designs which focus on residential housing and estates. She favours sharp lines and ‘complex geometry’ making her buildings instantly modern, yet practical.
So, although statistically, architecture might be a man’s game, it’s women who are paving the way forward with their practicality and imaginations. It’s a huge turnaround from the experience of Sophia Hayden, the first ever female to receive an architecture degree way back in 1890. Sadly, Hayden was micro-managed to the point of no return, and eventually turned her back on architecture.
But whether you live in a fancy ‘architect’ designed home or have just settled into your first noddy box, you’ll want to protect it – which is where your home insurance comes in. And making sure you’ve got adequate cover for the type of home you have – is vital. If it isn’t – well, it’s as much use as a glass hammer and that’s no good to anyone – male or female.