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    New book puts spotlight on Australia’s leading women in architecture

    Nicholas Rider

    Dean Dewhirst, author and manager of an architectural recruitment business, recently released a book to celebrate “contemporary architecture at its best”. Inside its pages, all of the architects profiled are women.

    In Chasing the Sky: 20 Stories of Women in Architecture, 20 of Australia’s most well-known female architects, from a range of small and large practices around the country, are put in the spotlight. The book comes after much talk in the industry about the underrepresentation of women, including 2012 research from Gillian Matthewson that found just over 20 per cent of registered architects were women.

    Dewhirst’s previous book, From the Ground Up: 20 Stories of a Life in Architecture, featured only five female architects.

    Among the architects profiled in Chasing the Sky is Clare Cousins, a Melbourne-based architect who not only runs her own practice, but is also involved in the broader design community as a mentor, public speaker, committee member, and industry representative. Others profiles include one with Christina Na-Heon Cho, an associate at Cox Architecture who has been responsible for the design of the Ipswich Government Office Tower in Queensland, and Kerstin Thompson of Kerstin Thompson Architects, who has designed projects such as the University of Auckland Masterplan and Marysville Police Station.

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    In a sense, the book is a reflection of the zeitgeist – not just within architecture, but as equity and equal representation are increasingly being discussed across industries and borders. Specifically in the architecture industry, there have been a significant number of recent initiatives aimed at tackling the pervasive, top-down-bottom-up problem of inequity.

    To name a few, Parlour recently released Marion’s List – a public register for the women of Australian architecture and the built environment – and a new scholarship has been introduced by the Turnbull Foundation with the aim of increasing the number of women in leadership roles in the built environment industry.

    Nichola Garvey, writing director at Maven Publishing, explains that there were two particular drives behind the book’s creation and release.

    “Dean was receiving a lot of feedback from his clients about trying to start a greater diversity in their leadership team,” she says.

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    “[Another reason] was [that] we were finding some people were turning down jobs if there wasn’t diversity in leadership. Women in particular don’t want to go to a firm if they don’t have any female mentors and role models.”

    Chasing the Sky is the second book in Dewhirst’s ‘20 Stories' series.

    Images: Maven Publishing 

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