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Only one sure way to avoid offensive advert

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Over the last few months there have been several strands of discussion relating to the representation of women in architecture and the proportion of practising women architects.

The arguments have ranged from the sensible questioning of why a debate involving four of our most successful female architects is hosted by a male architect and illustrated with a photograph of him standing over four seated females (aj 23.300); to the misguided thinking of John McClellan (Letters 6.4.00) who argues that the reason there are fewer women in architecture is because their brains are different and then states that in nomadic tribes women are both designers and constructors.

Male domination of the 'profession' has a great deal to do with the perception of female architects and therefore their numbers. Clients have insisted on building contractors modifying their behaviour towards women when working on building sites. Bans on wolf-whistling and pornographic images have largely been complied with by building contractors and are widely acknowledged to have improved the construction industry for women's participation.

So what is the editorial policy of the aj on this? Well, it accepted two adverts showing a nude woman standing next to a carpet - why? Who knows, but the advertising department maintains this was directly approved by the editor.

Several letters were recently printed (aj 20.4.00 and 27.4.00) expressing their offence at the advert and drawing the link with this type of advertising and the numbers of women in architecture. No editorial comment was given then or since.

So we were surprised to see a rerun of the same advert on the back cover of the aj 4.5.00. The advertising department has told us this was also approved by the editor, who was aware of the letters in the previous issues.

Are we to imply an editorial statement from this? How can the aj justify carrying such clearly offensive materials? In an age when information media maintain no editorial stance on the material they carry, instead relying on us to switch off our sets, we are regrettably taking the only course of action we know of to stop more of this type of advertising landing on our mat, and will not be renewing our subscription to the aj, which has just fallen due ...

James Holmes-Siedle, director, All Clear Designs, London W4

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