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Yasmin Shariff

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Women in Practice: Principal, Dennis Sharp Architects

WHY YOU BECAME AN ARCHITECT Growing up in Nairobi, I began training in architecture simply by appreciating the ingenuity of what was built around me. The fact that there were no other women architects in my Muslim community was not an issue

DESIGN ETHOS Rooted in the ecological Modern movement, maximising views and the context of the site Sectors you work in Education and housing

BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION That babies inhibit women’s professional careers: doctors, accountants and lawyers have babies too

ADVICE TO ASPIRING FEMALE ARCHITECTS Don’t let yourself be underpaid or overlooked for promotion

WHY WOMEN LEAVE Discrimination by their employers, ie other architects

WHAT WOULD MAKE THEM STAY? Recognising that there is a problem and doing something about it, such as positive discrimination

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK Network, be determined and just get on with it (yes, it is difficult)

ON CHILDREN There are no simple answers to juggling childcare and work, and it often means that you can’t socialise after hours, a big handicap

CURRENT CHALLENGES The lack of commitment by professional bodies and government to make a change at a strategic level. If women had access to clients and got equal pay, then the balance could genuinely be redressed. Giving 50 per cent of client advisory enquiries to women architects may be a start, but the big challenge is getting publicly procured projects open to women architects

BEST DEFENCE AGAINST SEXISM Helping other women stand up for their rights, including all forms of discrimination, especially low pay and harassment

INSPIRATION Erica Mann, a planner in the city council in Nairobi, who edited a magazine for Kenyan architects and encouraged me to write and to attend conferences

Place of study Architectural Association, the Bartlett
Current projects Schools for a major multi-academy sponsor in very deprived areas. I was shocked to see the level of poverty and how important free school meals are to so many
Clients Santiago Calatrava, Ascot Racecourse Authority, the RIBA
Featured project Strawbale dance studio
Client Fabrizia Verrecchia
Completed 2000
Budget £5,000
£/sqm £200

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