Building on the success of the first dinner, we decided to go back to the Contemporary Food Lab with another group of practitioners to further the debate. Maintaining the format of the placemat-survey, in which guests were asked to write responses to questions printed on their placemats, we attempted to develop the discussion with insights from the whole year in mind.
With hindsight the questions from the first event could have been phrased or positioned differently, but it is only with reflection on the discussions of the evening that we can appreciate that, and therein lies the beauty of this self-reflexive event. It is possible to trace the development of the questions from the first dinner to the second. We hoped to create a more nuanced, informed discussion through a more direct approach to specific issues. See the results for yourself:
1. Despite the exponential growth of female students in universities, both in Europe and internationally, women continue to be a minority in the field of architecture and spatial practices. Why are women less visible than men?
In my experience, women tend to be more open to collaborative projects, voluntary work etc. à projects they’re name is not or not necessarily put to the foreground. I assume they’re also less sensitive/trained/educated to realise how important it is to ___ and promote their projects.
This is a too complex question for this survey. The reasons are very complex, but have certainly nothing to do with some sort of “female character” – In my opinion it’s a structural + systemic problem. The values are shifting, but many have a problem to adapt or even accept that it actually takes work to change a failing system.
They don’t have to be. They can organise themselves as men do: form networks, support each other more, generate more visibility for each other… I believe it is a matter of tradition! We can change this. But women have to want to be more visible as well…
2. If we want to build a network of women spatial practitioners - how can we find other modes of connecting without subscribing to a neoliberal concept of recognition?
I perhaps wouldn’t link “building a network” to a question of recognition. I also think that success is subjective, or should be the concept being unpicked. Success – what is recognition is not a declaration of success? We need to redefine success and then recognise practitioners accordingly. Then we can build networks.
I think the network building itself is the answer. If women learn to appreciate the work of other women and if they learn to push those women – recognition should come at some point – like naturally recognition can be based on repetition: success, fame are also based on the fact that you’re constantly recommended as being the “right guy”
3. What would a non-sexist city be like? How could we create a city that was open for all?
To me a city is an open structure per se. Everyone can find his/her niche. Non-sexist places always exist because you can create them yourself, e.g. your home. That’s why I don’t see this as a question but as a given.
Finding modes by practice: hospitality, generosity, taking into account vulnerability/dispossession
It would feel safe to walk home alone at night. It would not feel uncomfortable to have someone look at you on the street or on the train. I actually think education is essential for this – teaching boys how to live in cities and girls how they’re allowed to live. Space should NOT be gendered.
4. Which female figure has inspired you? Why?
Charlotte Klonk :) Nele.
Women that help other women to grow. And to re-think given hierarchies. And to stick together!!!! And to see all this as something natural
I don’t want to give you her name, but I am inspire by a current client of mine, who is a CEO of an international company and who has a great way of being in charge of things.
Photo: Mary Scherpe