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More 2017 Excitement – 95 Years of AWA+D

Happy New Year! 2017 is an exciting year for AWA+D, as it marks our 95th anniversary and begins the 5 year countdown to our 100th year!  

AWA+D has a rich history, dating back to 1915 when four female architecture students, Mae Steinmesch, Helen Milius, Angela Burdeau, and Jane Pelton studying at the University of Washington, St. Louis, were denied inclusion in the men’s Architectural Fraternity.  This prompted them to form their own society, La Confrerie Alongine. In 1922, after learning of similar challenges facing women at other universities, the National Association Alpha Gamma Gamma was formed. Professional chapters of Alpha Gamma Gamma alumnus flourished, and in 1948 the association was renamed to “The Association of Women in Architecture and Allied Arts” and membership was extended to landscape architects, interior designers, artists, engineering, and other allied fields.

In 1964, the National Association was dissolved, with local professional and student chapters remaining. Since, the Los Angeles Chapter has remained one of the largest of the original chapters of AWA. In 1975, the chapter was renamed to the Association for Women in Architecture to better reflect the broadening of membership to everyone interested in supporting women in their fields, men included.  In 2012, the Los Angeles Chapter acquired a dba to “Association for Women in Architecture + Design” to acknowledge members in allied fields.

While great strides have been made for women in architecture throughout the 20th century, we remain today in recognition of the challenges which remain including: discrepancies in graduation rates vs. licensure rates of female students, underrepresentation of women in leadership positions, unfair discrimination based on the familial obligations of motherhood, and lack of recognition and accolades of prolific women in architecture and allied fields. Today, AWA+D aims to support women in these fields and advancing the profession by emphasizing their accomplishments and acting as a resource for support and camaraderie

We’ll be celebrating our 95th anniversary throughout the upcoming year, starting on March 5th with a joint celebration of Women’s History Month with the City of Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Department and the Santa Monica Conservancy at the Annenberg Beach House. The day will include tours of the complex, designed by architect Julia Morgan, and discussions of the challenges and changes that have faced women in architecture in the past and present day. We hope to see you there!

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