University of Sussex
D’Avolio, Maria Silvia.pdf (3.02 MB)
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Architecture as a gendered profession: a comparison between Italy and the UK to understand the material and cultural reasons that reproduce gender disparity

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posted on 2023-06-09, 21:24 authored by Maria D'Avolio
This study aims at understanding the material and cultural reasons why women leave the profession of architecture disproportionately when compared to men. I developed a study which compares Italy and the United Kingdom as two case studies, where I conducted a total of 39 individual interviews and two focus groups with women in architecture - either students, employed or self-employed in various sectors, or who left the profession at different stages. The original empirical data has been analysed through a thematic analysis which identified three main areas of discussion: the construction of professional and personal identity among female architects; material experiences of being female professionals in the construction industry, with a particular emphasis on implications of childcare and sexism; and consequences of leaving the profession on their identity as architects. Moreover, my own personal experience as a role-exiter in architecture helped me in accessing and understanding at a deeper level discourses relevant in the field. The first two chapters of this thesis analyse the context of architecture in both Italy and the UK and offer an overview of the existing literature and perspectives dealing with gender and work. There is a particular focus on architecture and the construction industry, highlighting the main theoretical approaches employed more effectively in previous studies in the field. Chapter three illustrates the research design and methodological reflections about the project. The main empirical chapters are intended to illustrate the analysis of the data firstly in the UK, then in Italy (chapters four and five), before offering a comparison of the results in the two different contexts (chapter six). The thesis concludes offering a discussion of the research questions and of the main contributions offered by the study to the research field, which originate particularly from the case studies approach employed in the study. In addition, I briefly conclude with a discussion of implications and strategies for policy and practice.


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  • Sociology and Criminology Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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