University of Pennsylvania Forms Student Group for Women in Architecture

Students at the University of Pennsylvania have formed a student organization for women in architecture called PennDesign Women in Architecture. The group aims to increase the visibility and voices of women in architecture, bring awareness to the gender disparity in the profession, and empower female architects to grow, succeed, and become leaders in the industry.

“When we look up, and we don’t see as many women in the field that we aspire to be, it resonates,” says Ramona Adlakha. “That’s something that drove us to start this group.”

Adlakha, along with classmates Ramune Bartuskaite, Rose Deng, Kirin Kennedy, Mary Swysgood, and associate professor Franca Trubiano, founded PWIA in 2016. Since then, the organization has greatly expanded; currently the organization has 56 members who are paired with 56 individual mentors from across the country. Additionally, PWIA hosts events such as lectures and workshops with professional women architects.

PWIA also offers its student members with leadership opportunities within the organization itself. The group is made up of five committees: communications, outreach, professional development, marketing, and finance. Each committee has two chairs and two to three subcommittee members, resulting in an entire leadership team of about 20 students.

“The organization is really helping students find their own place at Penn’s School of Design,” says Nicole Bronola, a third-year master’s architecture student and PWIA’s outreach chair. “It’s inclusive, and it encourages students to push forward and bring their best.”

One of PWIA’s most notable projects is Women [Re]build: Stories, Polemics, Futures, a book edited by Professor Trubiano and founding PWIA members Adlakha and Bartuskaite. The book, which is set to be published by ORO Edition’s AR+D series and will be available for purchase this fall, features articles, interviews, and projects of women who have challenged the gender disparity in the architecture field.

“There’s a lack of women role models in architecture, but not because they are not there,” says Adlakha. “It’s because we don’t hear enough about them. So, with this book, we wanted to highlight women out there doing amazing things within the profession.”

More information on PWIA can be accessed here.

Filed Under: DiversityGender Gap


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