It is a fact that women are underrepresented in the field of
architecture throughout most of the world. In 2014 a sector study by
the Architects Council of Europe1 found that 39% of those working in
the profession were women. In the United States a report by the
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture2 noted that while
40% of those enrolled in degree programs in architecture were women,
only 21% of those working in the field were. While reliable statistics
for the profession are not available for Muslim societies writ large,
the situation is certainly similar if not worse, depending on the
country. Nonetheless, throughout the region there are many examples of
women are prominent architects that have had a significant impact in the
field. For example, in the 13th cycle (2013-2016) of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA), women played a significant role in 4 of the six projects to receive the award. Indeed, a woman was among the recipients of the first AKAA Cycle in 1980, and another served on the jury.
This collection is created to celebrate the role of women in the architecture of Muslim societies throughout history. It should be noted that it is not new for women to play a role in shaping
the built environment of Muslim societies. At various points in history
women have been patrons of construction projects, including Jami’ al-Qarawiyyin (857/242 AH) in Fes, Madrasa al-Firdaws (1235-1236/633 AH) in Aleppo, and the Khayr al-Manazil Masjid (1561-62/968-69 AH) in Delhi. For more examples, see the collection Women as Patrons.