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Jennifer Dixon

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Women in practice profile: Partner/London Studio Principal, Austin-Smith:Lord

WHY YOU BECAME AN ARCHITECT My father is an architect and I grew up in his practice. I was acutely aware of the built environment and of buildings from an early age; by the time I was 16 it was clear there was little else I would rather do

SECTORS YOU WORK IN Industry and infrastructure, transportation, masterplanning and urban design

BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION That this predominantly male profession is hostile to women. Such hostility may exist, but I don’t believe it’s widespread

WHAT WOULD MAKE WOMEN STAY? A drive towards more appropriate fee levels, with a knock on effect on salaries

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK It’s a demanding profession and most of the challenges are not particular to women. I’m convinced that you can only make it work if making buildings is fundamentally your vocation, so I’d say don’t pursue it on a whim, make sure you love the subject matter enough to transcend the practical difficulties

ON CHILDREN Simply earning enough to cover full-time childcare is generally not the solution. The real challenge is to find a financial and professional model that allows you to spend the amount of time being a parent that suits you at each stage, given the project-based, intense nature of practice. You have to find
a way of working that allows you to be in control of your own time, ideally finding a niche off the critical path of projects that allows you to be flexible and fairly autonomous

ON SEXISM I think it is improving as those for whom sexist behaviour is the norm gradually reach retirement age. It’s now much rarer for people to attribute any professional conflict that arises to the fact that you are a woman

INSPIRATION Innette Austin-Smith, the female founder of our practice in 1949, a groundbreaking practitioner who still takes a close interest in the firm

Place of study Mackintosh School of Architecture, University of Westminster
Clients Grosvenor, TfL, various local and national government clients in the UK and overseas, private developers Featured project UWIC Cardiff School of Management
Client UWIC
Completed July 2010
Budget £13.1 milion
£/sqm £1,635

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I find it bizarre that the AJ would choose Jennifer Dixon as part of the Women In Practice articles, following the various issues with Austin Smith Lord at the end of last year.

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