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Women designing and planning for social equality

A political and feminist reading of practitioners’ commitment to rethink practice, question theory and take space

28 June 2024 – Zurich, Switzerland
ZHAW Institut Urban Landscape - Tössfeldstrasse 11, Winterthur
Keynote Lecture: Dr. Iulia Stătică (University of Sheffield, UK)


Descriptive accounts of the lack of evidence of women's participation and its material implications are no longer major trends in gender analysis in the construction industry. Rather, there is an increasing interest in understanding how practitioners' positionality in society as women influenced their work. Therefore, the aim of the one-day conference is to explore the ways in which women in spatial practices initiated or have been involved in rethinking practice, questioning theory, and taking space. As a result, their positionality as women and their political commitment guided their praxis towards fostering social participation and improving the everyday life of those usually inhabiting the margins of society.

The conference welcomes papers that address historical and current examples, discussions or other aspects that illustrate the social and political responsibility held by women in the built environment. Considering the topics investigated, the conference will serve as a platform to discuss theories of social reproduction, intersectionality, Marxist feminism, and Bourdieusian forms of capital; although submissions exploring other theoretical approaches are welcome.

Contributions will be organised into three principal areas: space, theory and publishing, and archives.
The first session will explore how women engaged in spatial practices took/are taking a stance in confronting gender bias in the places of social reproduction. These challenges can be analysed at different scales: domestic, local, and urban.
The second session will consider the implications of being at the margins of the history and discourse of architectural practice. For example, if women are segregated into assumed female sectors and roles, how could they contribute to the definition of the architectural ‘canon’?
The third and last session aims to question the concept of ‘archive’ and offer alternative readings of the past and the present where interpersonal relationships, in particular gendered ones, hold a fundamental role in the definition of design and planning disciplines.

Proposals submitted to the conference can address, but are not limited to, any of the following questions:

  1. In what ways women in the construction industry have been confronting and challenging gender bias in the places of social reproduction? (E.g., the kitchen, kindergartens, communal areas in apartment buildings...)
  2. How important/difficult is for women to accrue social and cultural capital in order to be able to participate in the transformation of architectural language?
  3. In what ways are women counteracting the gender bias predominant in historical research and archives? What are the desired and unvoluntary outcomes of these initiatives?
  4. What is the role that pedagogy can take in addressing the inequalities that various minority groups experience in the built environment? And what solutions are women offering?
  5. Considering the growing interdisciplinary interest towards the concept of ‘care,’ what is its role in the praxis employed by women in architecture and planning? To what extent this overlaps or adds to State programmes and interests?

Participation to the conference is free and open to the public.


To apply please send an abstract, up to 300 words, and a short biography, up to 100 words, no later than Sunday 14th January 2024 to the following address: mariasilvia.davolio@zhaw.ch
Each paper will be limited to a 15-minute presentation, and there will be time allocated at the end of each session for questions.

14th January 2024 | Deadline for abstract submission
12th February 2024 | Notification of abstract acceptance
1st March 2024 | Deadline for registration for speakers

Pending participants’ interest and peer-review editing, the conference contributions will go through a process of publication into an edited book, therefore a submission of the written contribution of interested authors will be requested within a set date.
For further information please send your inquiries to the conference organiser, Maria Silvia D’Avolio, at:  mariasilvia.davolio@zhaw.ch

The conference is sponsored by the ZHAW Institut Urban Landscape and the Swiss National Science Foundation, as part of the SNSF funded research project Challenging or Reproducing the Status Quo? The Leftist Architect in Milanese Architecture, 196X-198X.


Von: 28. Juni 2024
Bis: 28. Juni 2024