In 2014, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) awarded their annual gold medal to architect Julia Morgan, the first woman to receive the honour in 107 years. Morgan had been prolific during her lifetime. When she was awarded the prize, she had been dead for 57 years.
Women have been named as winners of both the Pritzker Prize and the Japanese Praemium Imperiale, while the UIA Gold Medal has yet to reward a female architect. The RIBA Royal Gold Medal was awarded on a single occasion to a woman in her own right: Zaha Hadid, and up until 2016, had only applauded women when part of a partnership: such as Ray (and Charles) Eames and Patricia (and Michael) Hopkins. Would either Charles Eames or Michael Hopkins have won the RIBA medal in their own right?
98.8% of RIBA Royal Gold Medallists are male. Yet the names of female architects feature regularly in the nomination papers, and include Jane Drew, Alison Smithson and Denise Scott-Brown.
This paper, delivered at an architectural conference, examines why female architects are in second place for the top architectural awards, and will also examine retrospective claims for women to win.