Session SS37. Women Professionals in the Urban Environment: Struggles for Autonomy in Early 20th Century
Coordinators: Isil Cokugras (email@example.com), Irem Gencer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The session is concerned about the role of women professionals in the urban environment (1900-1950) and how did they change the intellectual and professional landscape in early 20th century?
Women had always been in the urban scene and some had played important roles in building design and construction prior to 1800s. However, only in the nineteenth century they were able to get professional education and practice. Even so, we cannot claim that this opportunity allowed them to be recognized as fully equal players.
Recent discussions in gender studies are more concerned with the women’s professional career. As women’s studies flourished after 1970s, critical thinking on women’s professional life started to be considered as a whole, not just in relation to their family life. Lately, scholarship on the women professionals dealing with urban built environment especially in the US and Europe has significantly demonstrated the difficulties women faced in practice. Although there are gold medal winning women architects now, achievements of women professionals in the history of construction and planning disciplines are not fully acknowledged.
This session aims to recognize women’s role in urban history in order to democratize the vision of who constitutes the historical discourse in the early twentieth century. We welcome papers on women professionals concerned with the built environment (such as architects, urban planners, urban historians, preservationists, etc.) with a focus on their experience and insight into the institutional structures of their time and region. Some women, like Louise Blanchard Bethune, were able to multiply their positions and had a voice in professional institutions. Such cases provide us an opportunity to discuss the interdependence and relations of female and male professionals, as well as depict the professional situation of female practitioners in the urban environment. We seek proposals that examine the autonomy of women altering intellectual/professional landscape and women’s struggle with asymmetrical power relations and traditional boundaries. We invite scholars to expand our knowledge and discussion on the subject to various historical and political contexts in comparative perspective.
Keywords: women studies; urban environment; professional practice; urban history