Zaha Hadid

During the Rem Koolhass discussion session, which took place yesterday, a young fresh graduate female architect asked Mr. Koolhass a very challenging question. Why there are no icon or superstar female architects? During thousands of years, you never heard about any famous female architect except Zaha Hadid!! To tell you the truth it’s really weird and challenging question. Although it is known that architecture at universities is dominated by females.

Can anyone give me an explanation? I am not convinced with Mr. Koolhass answer

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21 Responses to “A challenging question for women”

  1. sandra 7iari Says:

    jad I thought he would throw in a better answer. But you noticed how interested he was in it since he revisited the answer minutes later and directed a question to the young lady who asked.
    i researched russian architects and the bauhaus very quickly today, but I couldn’t find any famous females…
    am i missing out on sth here?

  2. Rami M. Says:

    Zaha Hadid is not a woman by all meaning of the word, she is almost a guy:)

  3. Tareq Says:

    Dear Wael,,
    here is the answer for tht question:
    Have u ever went shopping with a woman? surely u did,, have u noticed how they memorize the markets and different style in “vatreenet el ma7allat” althu for us (men) they all look almost alike? cloths i mean! and for a woman, going to a mall once is mostly enough for her to Navigate in it later with ease…
    for us (men) again this is not an easy job to naviagte in malls.. we just walk endlessly till we somehow reach the place we want…
    now,, have u ever heard a woman telling directions for someone on the phone?! specially if it was giving directions 4 a place tht u know… have u noticed how the instructions she is giving is a bit confusing? propability of getting lost when a woman gives directions is over 75%!!
    Why is that???
    Well, it has been found that the female brain works and analyse data different than a male…the female brain is rather a 2-D color map, where naviagtion according to sequence of colors is pretty easy (mitel wajhat el ma7allat).. Male brain is more efficient in processing 3D data (shapes and landmarks) and 3D naviagtion is much easier for men (hence u find men are Good pilots!)
    Female brain doenst appreciate Distances correctly all the time (unless it had a real good training) while men are Natural Measureres!!
    maybe thats because of the fact tht our ancestors were hunters and had to perceive the depth of field for a good hunt,, women stayed in a rather “3D-poor enviornment” like a cave or house… thts one of the theories…
    Another fact is that girls are Weak in Maths.. while they are Fluent in language! Maths require a quick mind,, Architicure needs lots of maths and 3D analysis and measurments…
    i leave you now to figure out why there are no female figures in architicture!
    as well as ART, Cooking, and even Fashion designing!! look at the most prestigious desginers, they are MALES!!! Cooks are MAles mainly,, artests are ALL MALES!!!
    Im looking forward to hearing from you Wael…what do u think of what i have said??? was it convincing now?!

  4. Wael Attili Says:

    Ooh God Tariq, are you trying to make me do another post or comment on your answer?
    Anyway, you probably maybe right, but still I believe the answer is more that just physical differences. When I was at university studying architecture I had many female colleagues who were “A” students and did great designs. One piece of information that I know about physical differences between female and male is that female logic is analytical while male logic is compositional. But still I believe the reason is somehow social and religious. Notice that there is no famous female prophet. Maybe men are dominating the area of politics all times.. To tell you the truth I have no idea!!!

  5. Tareq Says:

    Wael,,, a post about such differences is NOT enough,,, u need a Website with a Wideband support!!!!

    Well,,my friend, from my humble experience and my constant trials to understand female behaviour (u need a real research to get to the Truth core.. and propably u wont find a thing when u reach it, coz its never concentrated in a certain point like a real core!! u find the truth scattered here and there in the “Femosphere” surrounding her!!
    one more thing abt female brain (again) is that it Seeks and looks for Symmetry! and as u know, Symmetry is Bueaty! i mean: u cant find bueaty in a butterfly for example which had her right wing triangle and the left one is square!! see al Living creatures had a Median line where things around it are rather Mirror image.. and when we see an ugly creature, its because our brain fails to recognize the symmetry immediatly, hence many people DO NOT like Bizzare modern art!! coz the brain cant understand it quite easily…
    Female reactions tend to go Asymmetrical.. i mean, for example, u know a girl, her reaction for being late for an appointment is like X reaction… 2 weeks later a similar event occurs, u predit her reaction to be X or maybe XXX (modified reaction) but will be surprised to see reaction ZYQ!#TT?!*#@!^&!! .. understand wht i mean?? same situations DO NOT create Similar reactions! simply u find them pretty unpredictable… tht brings us to the other point of discussion: Stability!
    Women “physically,emotionally and biologically” are not perfectly stable.. hormones is responsible much for tht.. and as a rule, to understand a given system, Stability aand reproducibility are vital to understand its basic laws and predict its behaviour,, imagine tht ur computer system executes the Order : Save File as Rename File (everytime and then!) or when u delete a file, it copies it! just a few times a month, then it goes back to normal.. what would u do?!?!! u will go crazy from it…Some women do the same for a couple of days in the month.. do irrational things somtimes…
    I dont wanna go deeper into that coz if i do i wont stop!!! :) lol
    I Like women, but really i cant understand them, nor they can understand me “most the time” ,,but im managing my life anyway…
    hope 2 hear more from u man,,,
    by the way, i saw the Ikbis production,, u r a real lucky man,, got a face massage and cleaning for FREE :) loool

  6. dozz Says:

    Tareq 8) what do you do for a living?!study women?
    its not that complicated,women and men are different,their hopes and expectations of life and the way they pursue all that is different.
    they’re capable,stable,organized,and certainly creative,but!i think women rarely drive themselves into this obsessive compulsive behavior when it comes to their career(which we all know architecture requires),they usually need more than that,which brings me to the other issue,which is sexist societies,society does not expect a career from a woman,it expects the world from a woman,but an outstanding career is not enough,hence,it doesn’t reward a woman’s masterpiece in architecture like it does for a man. ‘also’ wonder why do we rarely hear of women-serial-killers?

  7. Global Voices Online » Jordan: Challenging Women Says:

    […] Attili from Jordan posts a challenging question to women here. Share […]

  8. Isam Says:

    Tareq has given correct information. I would be shocked if Koolhass didnt give this particular answer.

  9. Jill Says:

    Tareq, are you kidding? No female fashion designers? Have you ever heard of Liz Claiborne or Donna Karan?

    Sure, women and men are different in many ways, including their interests and ways of thinking, I don’t deny that. But I think it’s also a good point that women in many countries (including Western ones) have been held back by men for centuries. If women have not succeeded in areas such as architecture, it’s because those areas have been closed to them, whether by the university programs themselves, or by their fathers or husbands.

    If women are to succeed, men have to open their minds and allow women to progress.

  10. Ohoud Says:

    Hmmm TAREQ you got it all wrong buddy:)

    I’m a female architect so please consider my opinion:)

    First of all I have another explanation regarding Zaha being the first female architect:

    In old times architecture practice wasn’t as evolved as nowadays, an architect was to be EVERYTHING and the tools we have today weren’t available until a very recent time. So women; as womens physical structure differs from men; were not capable of doing all that.Why deny it?

    Now as time evolved women started getting into this business but still its way too demanding for those women who have their set of priorities set otherwise AKA family, husband…etc.

    For example, I work from 8 till 6 each day including Thursdays and I do overtime as well which might be till 11 at night and its not that I’m giving of my free time, NO, I’m expected to do so.

    Now if I get married and have a child I’d re-think that and my set of priorities change and thats when my career comes second. And most of the women are like that. Its not because we’re not capable of doing it, no its because there are more important priorities in life and that would be family and children:)

    Zaha is neither married nor has children so her priority became her career and Im sure If women have set their careers as their priorities then the world would be dominated by women:)

  11. Ohoud Says:

    Wael: what was his explanation please?:)

  12. Wael Attili Says:

    Well regarding Rem Koolhass’ answer; i think somehow he tried to show that there are some periods of time in architecture were actually lead by women and he gave here two case studies.. nothing I’ve heard before… but also he wondered why and he return the question back to the girl who asked it in the first place to see here opinion.

    Regarding Tariq analysis, i believe he maybe took it to the extreme.. but lets not forget that its only one part of the answer…

    I think career for most of women through out the years were second priority… But in modern life when the marriage concept became unpopular and women became more dependent from men, the priority of careers started to became important for women.. even now for married women, it became hard for the man only to support the family.. so i believe within the next decades we will see a new generation of female architects.

  13. Tareq Says:

    Ooohh..seems i have stirred an issue here :)
    Well,, what i was talking about was from a scientific point of view (the physilogical and psychological differences),, having such differences doesnt necessarily means tht the woman is inferior to man in any means.. i hope im not misunderstood.. true we dont see Firewomen, or few female pilots but tht doesnt mean tht women are no good at all…
    I cant stress this fact more, Women are far more capable in tolerance than men! again science had proven that women tolerate more pain than men, dont look at the cries and tears,,these are expressions for pain and suffering, but i have read,heard, and surely seen that the LABOR pain is something 10 men cant tolerate!!!!!
    Allah is wiser than all of us,, whenever we see something in this universe that cant be totally understood by our “limited” minds, we must believe that our incapability of understanding it doesnt make it purposeless or pointless,, simply we dont know and thats it!
    وما اوتيتم من العلم الا قليلا

    Women are another thing that we “sometimes” may not understand fully.. so i take them as a Universal Miracle! I just look at them and Admire allah for such an Amazing creation :)
    Ohoud, I got it right! :) I know there are many female architicts and in all professions, i didnt say they cant do it, but i was talking from a scientific point of view and trying to explain why there were no Famous Female figures in such fields…
    I tell u something, my wife is a doctor in same specialty as i am, and she is REALLY GOOD!
    When we had our baby 2 months ago, She was dedicated to taking care of him (all day an night) and i couldnt tolerate 10% of what she did,, becasue of work load and longhours away from home etc…i know tht she had the wisdom and courage enough to stop her work and take a HARDER one without being paid!!! tht’s something MAN CAN NOT DO!! being a Mother is a FULL TIME JOB, and the reward is not a paycheck at the end of the month, its biggest reward is a smile or giggle of the baby u r taking care of… MANY MEN ALSO CANT UNDERSTAND & APPRECIATE THAT!!
    Anyway,, back to our example, i guess the social cause for women not being “Big Known Figure” is somehow related to Man EGO! Men are natural fighters, and they are quite territorial, of course we dont live in jungle nowadays (OR DO WE???!!!! jad ba66al el wa7ad ye3rif!))
    Men when feel threatened by a competitor at work for example, they try to show WHO IS BOSS,, how? they attack the weakest to demonstrate that they are serious for those who appears to be strong. mish hada elly biseer?! ma bti6la3 illa bras el miskeen!
    For many men, they consider the woman an easy target (which in many times is not true! i’ve seen women fighting back and breaking the word of 10 men!!) by the way, this mentality is widespread in USA and west as well!! Women doing same jobs as men get less money than them!! there were a HOT REPORT on ABC last month baout that…So in brief, i think its the wisdom of Allah to make women accepting taking care of home and chidren, or otherwise, human race will end up in the streets :) :)
    Jill: i said Most are Males… take the Percent and u will know what im talking about! Anyway, im not much fond of Males doing a female job, but the other way around IMPRESSES me much! :)
    Dozz: I really studied women my friend!! im a doctor! :)
    i know wt u r talking about and i couldnt agree less!
    however, understanding women in general is technically achievable, but understanding certain women in particular is almost impossible! in women, individual variations are pretty extreme, unlike men (althu u can find men who are totally irrational and u simply cant imagine urself being able to even get close to their way of thinking!)
    BTW, there is a famous Female serial killer i can think of : Rayya o Skeena :) lol
    Man,,, woman can DO ANYTHING! :) hehehehhe
    Wael: Thanks for tolerating this discussion at ur site! :)
    i think in the next decade, technology will help women more to do their jobs while being at home!!
    its already there in Holland and USA (Google inc.) they promoted a concept: It doesnt matter where u do ur work as long as its done on time!)

    Days will only show if this is gonna be a global trend or not!

    Thanks all

  14. Wael Attili Says:

    Tareq: Thank you for all the efforts you made in this discussion and thank for all the valuable information you gave us about women… any tips on how to make your wife happy without spending all of your salary :)… just kidding..

    by the way my wife is a pharmacist and she is having a really hard time to find a good suitable job for her… but now she found a job that she can do from home and i believe that she will be great at it.

  15. Tareq Says:

    Wael.. although u were kidding, but i do have an effective way to make the wife happy without spending the salary :)
    u cut out of the salary 20 JD every month… and every 10 days (or so) u buy her some flowers (5 JD make a real good bouqet ) and at the end of the month u take her to a movie after asking ur friends abt what is recommended for couples and what is not :)

    I did that once my friend, and Honey Moon came back all over again!! :) Flowers do Magic :) specially perfumed ones :)

    best luck :)

  16. Luca Says:

    Let me disagree with the “would-be” scientific (psycho-biological or ethologist based) approaches supported above. Patriarchal structuring of societies has a lot to do with your question: the first point you have to consider when answering your question is history. Who is making history, and to what purposes? You’ll easily find out that history (in the sense of storiography) is mainly a male-dominated area. History is the essential brick building the perception societies have of themselves: what is your society if not the knowledge you have of your own history, as you learnt it through the books and the schooling programmes?
    Studies carried out since the ’70s showed that women were simply neglected in the history books. It is as simple as that: a historian has to make choices when writing a book, selecting what is relevant and discarding what he considers not relevant. Women, for political reasons, where simply neglected. It is simply not true that there were not great women in the history in every field, they were just neglected.
    Beside this very simple consideration, you have to add further relevant elements: for instance in the Roman age the most important religious personality was the “pontifex maximus”. Still today, the catholic pope is called “pontefice”. The latin pontifex means “bridge builder”. So architecture was strictly associated with religion. Also in the ottoman empire the Pashas were expected to build bridges to celebrate and manifest their power. There is a beautiful myth in the turkish-ottoman tradition explaining that Allah created the world as a perfect ball, with a perfectly round and smooth surface. It was then satan who scratched it with his dirty nails, creating the valleys and the mountains, the rivers and the seas, which are separating peoples, favouring misunderstandings and, ultimately, war. So building bridges is a charitable act, one of the most important, because that is about linking peoples, and supporting peace. If religion and building were so strictly intertwined, it could not be acceptable that the “impure” women were involved in it, as much as they were excluded from the key religious roles.
    Another consideration regards the role of the architect in the past: he was not only the engineer preparing the drafts and the designs for the construction to be built, he had to be the director and coordinator of all works, the master of the men (often including slaves) who were directly executing the works, how could these men accept to be directed by a woman? There a few examples proving that it was possible, but these were exceptional women, for instance Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, the King of England. She indeed had the authority to be an architect although she was a woman, and it is one of the few examples in the history.
    So, dear Tareq, I am afraid you will have to entirely reconsider the network of gender relations, as well as the studies you are carrying out on women, who seem to be strongly influenced by your culturally driven misconceptions.
    P.S. If you are interested in going further deep into the argument, there are several books treating it, like the recent “Gender and architecture” by Louise Durning, or “Architecture and the Politics of Gender” by Hellen Hills, that you can also partially preview on google books here:“gender and architecture”&sig=8kl0AfrHtW-61×5l2OKJjQLzbNE#PPP1,M1

  17. Luca Says:

    Is this a moderated blog or is is just censorship? I posted a comment yesterday, but it appeared for 5 minutes only, then it disappeared!

  18. Wael Attili Says:

    Luca; sorry for taking much time to approve your comment.. this happens because its the first time you comment in my blog then after that it is automatically approved

  19. Luca Says:

    Wael, thank you very much for hosting me on your blog! Hope to be able to provide useful contributions!

  20. Wael Attili Says:

    you are more than welcome, i believe it would be a great chance for me to exchange opinions.

  21. Ina Says:

    I like this blog a lot and wanted to share an opinion, 5 years later :)

    From my point of view you have to work backwards on this problem! Why aren’t there famous women architects? They are shy, modest, only locally known in their countries and to be famous - they have to be promoted internationally which is like a American presidential campaign - good PR and money! To be famous they have to design a great project - who is going to give them that project?! Men still hold the top positions - head of architectural companies, directors, managers, assistants - so where is the woman architect up there to get her name on the project? Even if she has her own company - who will be the client? A man of course!Anyone with lots of money or in a company will be a male client for the project. So how many man would count on a woman to design their project instead of a man with who they can sit, drink coffee and cigar after, and joke? Women are just bitching to each other so I doubt there would be many women architects-women clients relationships going ok in a process of a project.

    I saw a brilliant lecture on the first women architects in the world from 18th century on! Turns out behind every great male architect, there was a great woman architect standing! You just never hear about them but they were there, behind Le corbusier and Mies van Der Rohe, who was rubbing off the female architetcs signature from a perspective and signing his on it.

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