I’m a 15-year-old UAE resident and my goal is to be an architect. However, my father does not agree as, according to him, it’s not a career for a woman. He feels I should pursue corporate law. What do you suggest?
By its close association with construction, architecture has for long been wrongly perceived as a male preserve. The study of architecture can be an effective channel for community development, economic empowerment of the disadvantaged and be used for development of a healthy sustainable environment – as well as building structures with bricks and mortar.
To assist students in narrowing their selection and support their career choice, educational assessments like psychometric and aptitude tests are conducted. These quantitative tests are accredited and administered by professional counsellors to assess an individual’s intelligence, aptitude and personality traits, and help parents and students make objective and informed decisions about their career choice and ensure they have the skill sets to support their passion.
To pursue architecture at university, you would need to study maths and physics in high school to develop problem-solving techniques and logic. Proficiency in sketching and drawing will further develop your ability to visualise and conceptualise. Creativity and passion for design are also essential traits to be a successful architect. A comprehensive record of your work should be meticulously maintained, as in addition to your academic grades, admission to university, will, to a significant extent, be contingent on the quality of your portfolio.
Women have done some outstanding work in this field. Iraqi architect Zara Hadid won the highest honour in architecture, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004 for her designs, which encompassed architecture, to urban spaces, to products and furniture.
While Cairo-based Shahira Fahmy used her skills in the public realm and social responsibility, Sharon Davis channelled her expertise to create community centres for women in Rwanda and Neri Oxman coined the phrase “material ecology” to define her work using 3D printing and fabrication techniques.
The list of such talented women who have contributed to the field of architecture and design is endless and would include but not be limited to luminaries such as Amanda Levette, Kazuyo Sejima, Momoyo Kaijima, Odile, Marion Mahony and Amale Andraos.
Job prospects range from being self-employed to working in small- to medium-sized firms to much larger practices that will incorporate other professional areas, such as planning, urban design, construction or project management. Governments also employ architects in their planning departments.
Other careers that you can pursue with a degree in architecture would be a landscape architect involved in environmental development or restoration architect responsible for conservation and restoration of heritage buildings.
Sanjeev Verma is an international education counsellor