"There’s never been a better time to be a woman"

Jane Drew Prize winner Amanda Levete’s speech about being a woman in the profession

by Rossana Vinci


On 2 March 2018, Jane Drew Prize winner Amanda Levete gave a speech at the 2018 Women in Architecture Awards.

She told about what first drew her to architecture, her approach to design, and being a woman in the profession.


Here's part of her inspirational speech:


"100 years ago, we didn’t have the vote and when Jane Drew graduated in the ‘30’s she couldn’t find work in an architect’s office because they “didn’t take women”.

But there’s never been a better time to be a woman than now. We have to seize this moment. Years of legislation have failed us but the power of the MeToo movement to change a culture is unstoppable. I suspect MIPIM, which I went to once and vowed never to go to again, will be a quite different affair this year. Formula 1 has set the bar high going from Grid Girls to Grid Kids almost overnight. Let’s see what MIPIM do..."


MAAT - AL_A Architecture Firm, Lisbon (2017) Ph. © Alexander Bogorodskiy



..." These are very exciting times which makes receiving this award even more poignant.

Because this honour is about a lifetime achievement I thought I’d share some of my reflections on a life in architecture.

My experience of being a woman in architecture is a very positive one but mine hasn’t been the most predictable of careers. I left school at 16, went to art school and through reading about art history I discovered architecture. And through architecture I came across the AA..."


Bangkok Central Embassy - AL_A Architecture Firm (2015) Ph. © AL_AMAAT 



....."I know that women often take enormous personal risks in order to pursue careers in risk-averse architecture firms who work for risk-averse clients. There are so many stories of women architects postponing having a family in order to move up the corporate ladder, only to find their path blocked.

It’s time to reclaim and celebrate risk in architecture as a positive force. I think we can do this by taking on less predictable risks, working in less predictable ways, finding different ways to collaborate and exploring fresh ideas in the field.

Women, in my experience are natural risk takers but also pragmatists – the perfect combination for leadership.


Now is our time - but let’s make sure we do it our way".




Watch Amanda Levete’s speech to the attendees at the Women in Architecture Luncheon on 2 March 2018:



Cover photo: source, Theo Wood