Women In Design Celebrate International Womens Day at the Harvard GSD

The Women in Design (WiD) student group celebrated International Women’s Day in style at the Harvard Unversity Graduate School of Design, engaging students, staff and faculty to think about the role of women in the field. From a photo booth where people could show their support, to writing Wikipedia articles on women designers, video interviews, and a reception in the Loeb Library, the group highlighted the central role women play at the GSD and in the design profession.

WiD Co-President’s, Ingrid Bengtson (MArch ’15) and My Tam H. Nguyen (MUP ‘15) introduced the International Women’s Day reception at the Loeb Library, highlighting WiD’s recent campaign with ArchiteXX to write women designers into Wikipedia, as well as their efforts to have Denise Scott Brown recognized by the Pritzker Prize. 

Below are photos from the day, and quotes from students, faculty and staff who gave speeches in support of International Women’s Day at the Loeb Library reception.   

Mohsen Mostafavi at International Women's Day

“Women play a significant and critical role in the school, and the efforts of women at the GSD have an impact both nationally and internationally. The architectural profession can be challenging, and can be particularly challenging to women who want to both stay in architecture and have a family. It is undoubtedly the case that women excel at the GSD, but the school can and should continue to do more to help female students in their professional lives.” – Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design

“I became an academic because I was personally inspired by a female professor who changed my life. She worked with me, helped me when I needed it, and we ended up teaching together. It’s important for women to have a bond with a female teacher who can help guide you both professionally and personally.” – Diane Davis, Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism

“Life is sometimes brutal in architecture, and it can be especially brutal for women. I don’t feel like I’m a woman, I’m a person. When I feel like that, I’m allowing my daughter and son to feel the same way.” – Shahira Fahmy, Architect and Loeb Fellow ‘15

“When you’re in studio you can’t leave, and that’s an attitude you take into the work force. What I noticed when I started working was that there was a lot of downtime in the office and there was a culture of inefficiency. As parents, we need a flexible schedule and you are so much more efficient when that happens.” – Maryann Thompson, Architect and Professor in Practice of Architecture

“Women’s emancipation is not possible without understanding women’s history.” – Sonja Duempelmann, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture

Caroline James at International Women's Day

Denise Scott-Brown said that ceremony is a recognition of a transformation. When I was a student at the GSD, we noticed—among other things—that women weren’t talking as much as men in critiques, so we started the Women in Design group in order to have the important support of our peers.” – Caroline James (MARch ’14), Co-President of Women in Design

“As people who care about power and space, we see how women interact in the classroom and in our cities. Introducing women in design into Wikipedia is one way that we can construct information and data that promotes women in relation to space and power.”           – Jane Hutton, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

“Today we are acknowledging the fact that by speaking in a setting such as International Women’s Day we make something public. Hannah Arendt said that excellence is by definition a public performance. This group is a performance of excellence.”        – Shantel Blakely, Public Programs Manager

“I saw the first iteration of Women in Design here at the GSD. The power of networks and having a community is great and I hope the group continues to be a resource to each other in the future.”              – Sally Young, Coordinator of the Loeb Fellowship Program

“It is necessary to celebrate women in the field as role models are anecdotally and empirically important to inspiring future female leaders. I encourage women to think about their own role in women’s equality and to know that there is a supportive environment here at the Harvard GSD.” – Theresa Lund, Managing Director, Office of the Dean

Women in Design student group

“International Women’s Day means solidarity and reflecting on my place in the world. There is a lot of opportunity presented to us by a supportive institution such as the GSD, and our drive to help women in school and in the profession starts with the culture we cultivate here at the GSD.” – My Tam H. Nguyen, MUP 2015, Co-President of Women in Design

“Events like these are really important in order to shed light on the fact that, for the other 364 days of the year, women’s achievements are, at best, downplayed. That is why it was so crucial for us, as WiD, to hold this event, despite our busy schedules outside of this group.” – Tatjana Crossley, MArch II 2015