Bold women in architecture

Throughout history, women's achievements in many areas have been overlooked due to sexism or gender discrimination. In the past, architecture, a mainly male-dominated field, has had many women bring new ideas to the table, working hard to be recognized as their male peers, with only a few women succeeding in their practice. Now, many foundations and organizations strive to support female architects and their projects throughout the world. See below the many women who paved the way for others and those who continue to step up their game.



Sophia Hayden

Sophia Hayden was the first woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in architecture in 1890. Due to the time's prejudices, she struggled to find a job in architecture, and settled for teaching mechanical drawing at a Boston high-school.

Marion Mahony Griffin

In 1894, Marion Mahony Griffin graduated from MIT with a degree in architecture. A year later, she was hired by Frank Lloyd Wright and was his first employee ever. Griffin lived many years in Wright’s shadow, but nowadays her work is highly admired and correctly attributed to her.


Julia Morgan

Morgan was the first-ever female admitted into the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1902, and was the first female architect to have a license in California. She was also the first woman to receive the American Institute of Architect’s highest award, the AIA Gold Medal in 2014 (posthumously).

Norma Merrick Sklarek

In 1954, she became the first African-American woman to have an architecture license in New York and California. In 1980, she co-founded Sklarek, Siegel, and Diamond, one of the biggest, female-only firms in the USA.



Frida Escobedo

Mexican-born architect Frida Escobedo has changed the way we view spaces, her work focuses on rehabilitating unused areas, reconnecting communities, and creating modern spaces. Her projects have gone from urban homes to hotels, art installations, and more.

Zaha Hadid

Hadid became the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize, an annual award for outstanding architects. Often called "Queen of the curve", her modern outlook on her work made futuristic statements, from curved façades to sharp-edged buildings. Her legacy remains inspiring women around the world, as she passed recently in 2016.


Neri Oxman

American-Israeli designer and professor Neri Oxman has quickly become an influential architect. She coined the term “material ecology”, and incorporates organic materials in her structures to create a fusion between man-made and natural resources, appealing to new generations that focus on ecological solutions in architecture.

Kazuyo Sejima

Japanese born Kazuyo Sejima has been an important modernist influence with her creative work. She and Ryue Nishizawa have founded SANAA architectural studio, and have received the 2010 honor of Pritzker Laureates.

With determination and innovating ideas, these women have made household names out of themselves. They have become important architectural references and have gained the respect and admiration of fellow male contemporaries as well as the world.


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