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    Let's show creativity – women are best to rise above the statistics

    Deborah Singerman

    Ellis Jones, a social media and impact agency, suggests that creative spaces create ideas. The openness to follow ideas “can be set in place by the physical environment”. They have set up an invigorating space for research, workshops, events, training and for hire, called the Realm of Possibilities. The entrance “has a sense of ceremony”, the space feels “endless”, there is “diverse, ambient, warm lighting and pastel colours” leading to “a positive frame of mind”, especially as pastel colours are “better than harsh for creative thinking”.

    Australian Trend Forecast’s four key colour trends for 2017 also followed such optimistic pathways with Dawning – colours reminiscent of a new day, Gaia’s Land – harmonious, earthy shades, Touch Me – a tactile palette, and Cat’s Cradle – colours tied together. As the director, Kim Chadwick said, “the colour palette is definitely more subdued tones. From blush to duck egg blues, white, grey and black, copper and aged metals, and lots of timber and concrete.”

    Homewares business Nathan + Jac looked to terracotta, cork, dark green, upholstered bedheads, the escapism of nooks with no digital distractions, and the preference for an industrial aesthetic and earthy textures as opposed to copper, marble and large open spaces.

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    In December last year, Parlour announced the launch of Marion’s List, an important resource for those seeking inputs from the women of Australian architecture and the built environment at public events. Photography by Dianna Snape

    The need for creative optimism is also felt in the slow changes in women’s position in the workforce, with definite room for improvement. Women’s Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA) has found that only 21 per cent of sources across 6,000 newsprint articles were female. That’s why Marion’s List (from Parlour) of women architects and other building environment professionals who are willing and available to provide expert commentary is important.

    Please note that the recent Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Cities conference had little apparent difficulty reaching its target of 50 per cent representation from women on its panels. Likewise, the ABC and its International Women’s Day women-presenters only day.

    However, the call for more women to study engineering and the other STEM subjects (Science, Technology and Mathematics) and enter these fields must recognise that offers (and admissions) have remain unchanged over the last five years in NSW and ACT, per the Universities Admissions Centre.

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    Queensland architect Catherine Baudet won the inaugural Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity prize last month

    A bright note is the recent inaugural Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity prize. This went to Queensland architect Catherine Baudet, for her support of women in the architectural profession for over 30 years. She co-founded Women in Architecture in Queensland (1983), followed in 1984 by the first exhibition of the work of 40 women architects.

    Whitman’s research in 2005, ‘Going Places the Career Progression of Women in Architecture’ was in days before the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Committee for Gender Equity but highlighted the need for discussion and action to advance gender equity in the profession.

    So, in days of an intractable gap between the pay of men and women, of ever-so slow moving cultural shifts and board membership still lagging omnipresent male dinosaurs of industry, there are increasing signs of wanting even more change. Angela Priestley publisher of Women’s Agenda website, has a LinkedIn group, the Women’s Content Movement, for journalists to expand their contact lists and diversity of sources,

    Sydney Morning Herald’s Travellers section, March 4-5, had a cover story on women travellers. This included architect Caroline Pidcock of Pidcock Architects. While travel is the chance to “never waste an opportunity to see buildings I want to see”, she says sometimes “it is better to sit in a cafe a bit longer and enjoy the ambience” and her most “cherished destination” as the newspaper asked is “the next one I am going to”. Always looking ahead, as NSW president of the-then RAIA Pidcock’s president award was for the practice that had most advanced its women employees.  

    Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing, proofing and project managing consultancy specialising in the urban built environment and community. @deborahsingerma; [email protected]

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