Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program



Whaley, Dr. Rachel


Since its professionalization in 1857, the field of architecture has been male dominated. Traditionally, the efforts of female architects have been constrained to sectors considered “appropriate” to their gender such as historic preservation and residential and interior design (Adams and Tancred 2000, American Architectural Foundation 1988). Efforts to promote gender equality more broadly have improved academic participation and, in 2012, women accounted for 42% of architecture students nationally (The National Architectural Accrediting Board, Inc. 2012). However, during the same year, women made up only 24% of the architecture workforce (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012). Scholars and professionals attribute this gender gap to a range of factors, including industry tradition (Pluviose 2007), sexism, wage discrimination, (De Graft-Johnson and Greed 2005; Jett 2012), a difficult work life balance (Greer 1982), and a lack of female role models (Ahrentzen and Anthony 1993; Frederickson 1993; Groat and Ahrentzen 1996; Pluviose 2007) among others; nevertheless, there has been little empirical exploration of the influence of role models on women in architecture. To address this gap, I draw upon analyses in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, which show that role models promote women’s success by mitigating the effects of stereotype threat (Marx and Roman 2002; McIntyre, Paulson and Lord 2003). Similarly, my study of an accredited architecture program at a Midwestern public university investigates the relationship between role models, academic confidence, and future career confidence and considers the results within the context of women’s historic and contemporary participation in architecture.