Tulane Women in Architecture offers mentorship to students

Tulane Women in Architecture offers mentorship to students

Kathryne LeBell | Staff Artist

Tulane’s Women in Architecture club founders hope to give female architecture students a community and a voice on campus.

Students and faculty formed the club in the fall 2016 semester as a Newcomb-sponsored subset of Women in Architecture Students, a national organization under the American Institute of Architects. Though the club is fairly new to the Tulane community, it has already made great strides in empowering and encouraging female architecture students.

The club was brought to campus after noticing the discrepancy between the number of females involved with the academic side of architecture and the number working in the profession. Women in Architecture hopes to bridge this divide. 

“In academics, it’s primarily women … ,” founder and sophomore Hannah Kenyon said. “You know, you have your six-to-four female-to-male ratio, and when you get to the profession, women are very sparse.”

Programming specific to the club has been fairly limited, mostly because when a speaker comes to campus or there is an exciting event, the club does not want to limit it to the people involved with the organization. Women in Architecture has held events as a group, such as luncheons with female architecture principals and movie nights. Its most valuable aspect, however, is the supportive community fostered through the club. 

“I think definitely the mentorship, camaraderie and community are the focus of it, because, in terms of programming and events, they’re all kind of mixed together … ,” architecture professor and club sponsor Tiffany Lin said. “If we have a great lecture, everyone’s invited, and they often pool resources, too, with other organizations.” 

Today, females are greatly underrepresented in architecture. The most notable reason is that firms know women will need to take time away on maternity leave and that they may not come back to work as enthusiastic and productive as before. This is particularly difficult for architects, as most projects are long-term and it may be difficult reentering the workplace. 

“[After having children], things are in a different perspective, meaning it doesn’t feel worthwhile, or even meaningful, to stay up all night working on something that is minor and not really affecting anyone,” Lin said. This may be true, but keeping women out of the field is unacceptable. Sexism is an issue the Women in Architecture club is trying to combat head-on.

Through organizations such as Women In Architecture, the AIA, which has subsets on individual college campuses, is fully capable of empowering young women in the field. This club has allowed female architecture students to not only feel like they have a place on Tulane’s campus but also to see and hear from successful female architects working in the field.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Robin is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]