Women in Architecture in India: Independence, Modernism and Gender
By Madhavi Desai
The profession of architecture has remained the predominant domain of men even though occasional women began joining it from the 1930s and 1940s onwards. By the 1970s, it became quite popular when an increasing number of girls chose to make a career in the field with female students reaching the 50% mark by the 1990s. At the same time, when it comes to qualified women practicing in the profession today, the number drops substantially to about 12%. In spite of this, in the twenty-first century, we find that women architects are playing several roles as designers, planners, administrators and educators. Some of them run practices in partnership with their architect husbands. A few work in governmental and municipal organizations. They often devise alternative models to mainstream practice or diversify into nontraditional roles, serving a broader range of people and addressing issues of community and the city. They are now involved in international practice, research, low-cost housing, sustainable design, activism and historic preservation as well as conservation. They are increasingly making their presence felt through issues of tradition and modernity, nationalism and globalization and community and slum development. The interweaving of their careers, lives and architecture are at the focus of the proposed book, "Women in Architecture in India: Independence, Modernism and Gender."
It is believed that women architects' approach includes ideas of collaborative rather than competitive pedagogies in architectural schools. They generally embrace the idea of professional service as opposed to individual glory and profit that can serve both men and women in architecture. The research project will study the influencing factors in the making of a woman architect in India within the given social, technical and professional context, and analyze the work opportunities/avenues adopted. It will evaluate the educational scenario and it's influence on girls, including the contribution and role of female students/faculty members. Specific challenges faced by women will also be identified and an attempt made to trace the career profiles and professional achievements of contemporary women architects. Data will be gathered from archival sources, from girl students entering architecture schools and from women architects with a stress on direct observation. Interviews will be conducted around the country of women in practice and in academia in order to work towards a publication.