Why Intersectionality?

For this year’s annual symposium, the Association for Women in Architecture + Design has chosen the topic of Intersectionality. We realize that some may not be familiar with the term, and may not see how it relates to design and the built environment. The term intersectionality theory was first coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989.

“…intersectionality is not easy. It’s not as though the existing frameworks that we have - from our culture, our politics or our law - automatically lead people to being conversant and literate in intersectionality. Intersectionality draws attention to invisibilities that exist in feminism, in anti-racism, in class politics, so obviously it takes a lot of work to consistently challenge ourselves to be attentive to aspects of power that we don’t ourselves experience. I think that the same kind of openness and fluidity and willingness to interrogate power that we as feminists expect from men in alliance on questions of class should also be the expectation that women of color can rely upon with our white feminist allies.”

Kimberlé Crenshaw

What is Intersectionality?

Intersectionality is a tool that allows us to think about systemic oppression in a broad context and emphasizes individual’s experiences in an effort to understand privilege and power. Further, intersectionality requires that we understand that the combination of these factors produce a unique, substantively different experience of discrimination rather than an additional burden of discrimination.

What does Intersectional Feminism have to do with Architecture and Design?

Intersectionality in architecture and the built environment disciplines is not just about the politics of recognition. As a framework for architectural advocacy, intersectionality is about the compound issues of inequity and discrimination that plague the profession. We practitioners have a collective responsibility to take action toward practices that are inclusive, egalitarian, and socially just. With sensitivity to differences of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, race, class, age, ability, sexuality, immigration status, religion, etc., we can transform dominant power relations, and build alliances and networks to revolutionize the profession responsively, reflective of its practitioners. Intersectionality includes feminist practices, which emphasize interconnectedness to redistribute power and work for the collective good, not just the individual.

How does it affect us as women in the profession?

Intersectionality also places emphasis on collaboration, cross-disciplinary exchange and cooperative interdependency. Women have always succeeded in alternatives to normative forms of practice (by necessity), making significant contributions to the built environment. Embracing and acknowledging these allied diverse practices is an essential part of intersectionality. An intersectional approach demands that we recognize the different types of discrimination as points of overlap or as coming together at a point of intersection. The goal is not to show how one group is more oppressed than the other, but to recognize where we have similarities and differences in our experiences of discrimination, and to work to build within- and across-group solidarity.

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 1.17.27 PM.png

Our Mission

The Association for Women in Architecture and Design’s mission is to advance and support women in the allied fields of architecture and design. We encourage and foster high levels of achievement by providing educational programming, mentoring, and illuminating career opportunities for students and professionals in these fields. We cultivate awareness of the value and advancements created by our profession.


Please take our survey to help us better understand your thoughts around this topic:

Link to survey:


Disclaimer (Notice to Survey Respondents):

Your response to this survey is voluntary

. Your response will be used by AWA+D only for the purpose of preparing for our 2018 Symposium on intersectionality in A+D.

We want to assure you that your responses are completely anonymous. Responses to anonymous surveys cannot be traced back to the respondent. No personally identifiable information is captured unless you voluntarily offer personal or contact information in any of the comment fields.

If you are given an opportunity to submit free-form responses, please provide relevant and responsible responses; refrain from disparaging, offensive, harassing or otherwise inappropriate language; and refrain from including any sensitive information of any kind (e.g., credit card or bank account information), and any confidential or proprietary information. Your response will be processed by AWA+D and if you do not wish your response and the information it contains to be processed by AWA+D, please do not respond to the survey. Do not forward this survey without the permission of AWA+D, and please contribute to its effectiveness by responding only once. Your survey response will be considered confidential or proprietary and AWA+D will protect such data included in your responses.

Follow the AWA+D blog with Bloglovin

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 1.17.27 PM.png