The Girl has Become a Giant in Architecture
What you need to know:
- Department of Architecture and Building Science at the University of Nairobi started in the 1950s, with severe gender disparities.
- In 2020, the Department has 187 female students and 12 female lecturers.
- Prior to that, it was common to find classes with no female students, especially in the 1970s and 1980s.
- The first Kenyan female lecturer joined the department in 2008 as a tutorial fellow, breaking years of male prevalence.
The Department of Architecture and Building Science at the University of Nairobi is among the oldest at the institution of higher learning, having begun as Royal Technical College in the late 1950s.
In spite of this, the department had severe gender disparities for decades until the turn of the millennium when this begun to change. As a result of deliberate efforts among the teaching staff, the department now boasts a near 1:2 gender ratio, a huge leap from lows of up to 0:1, in favour of men.
“Female architects were very rare when I joined the Department of Architecture in 1997,” Dr Margaret Macharia, a lecturer at the department says.
Only two female students had been admitted into her First Year class of 27. Then, the entire department had less than 10 female students out of about 170.
“There were no female lecturers, and the only female architects I ever encountered were wives of my lecturers,” she adds.
Twenty-three years later, the numbers have improved greatly. In 2020 the Department has 187 female students and 12 female lecturers.
The increase in the number of female architecture students at the University occurred rapidly from the year 2000. Prior to that, it was common to find classes with no female students, especially in the 1970s and 1980s.
In fact, in 1976, the department had no female student from First Year through to Fifth Year. Male student numbers remained stable. The few female students who joined the department fell off, or repeated classes or changed courses all together due to the length of the course.
During the earlier 7-6-3 system of education, the Architecture degree course took five years, while other undergraduate courses took three years at the university. Under the current 8-4-4 system, architecture takes six years.