A look back: Women, Design & Heritage

On 23 September, the international conference Women, Design & Heritage took place at the Art & History Museum in Brussels. This symposium was the capstone of the Wiki Women Design project.

Through a series of thematic lectures, national and international researchers, experts and designers took the audience on a diverse reflection on women, design heritage and historiography. In conversation with each other and the audience, the speakers exchanged ideas about the future steps needed to advance research on women and design and to make a concerted effort to bridge the gender gap in the heritage field.

During the third and final session, the project partners presented the results of their research and projects in the framework of Wiki Women Design. They focused not only on the written Wikipedia articles include and important (re)discovered Belgian female designers and new research the project has inspired, but also the awareness the project has brought to a wider audience and the positive impact this has had on the design sector.

Sam Donvil (meemoo, BE) discussed how institutions and organisations can use Wikimedia projects to address the gender gap. Fredie Floré (KU Leuven) traced the female pioneers of Belgian interior architecture and Terry Scott (Design Museum Brussels) introduced participants to Italian designer Carla Scolari. Hilde Heynen (KU Leuven) explained the "Leaky Pipeline" in Flanders' architectural landscape; a phenomenon whereby women are less and less represented in further stages of a career in architectural practice. Véronique Boone (ULB) presented the research she did in the context of the Wiki Women Design writing session during the Semaine d'innovation pédagogique, as well as her exploration of modernist architect Eliane Havenith. Subsequently, Marjan Sterckx (UGent) discussed female designers in the belle époque, after which Karolien De Clippel (Modemuseum Hasselt) explained women in Belgian fashion. Marie Becuwe (Design Museum Gent) presented the focus on women in the research and collection of Design Museum Gent and Elke Couchez (UHasselt) went in search of people who are on the "periphery" of the design profession.

Evening debate: Women in Architecture Today

As an evening programme of the Wiki Women Design symposium Women, Design and Heritage, a debate evening took place on the same day in partnership with MAD, Home of Creators in Brussels. Architects, researchers and policy makers discussed the role of women in contemporary architectural practice. An Fonteyne (noAarchitects), Kelly Hendriks (B-ILD), Hilde Heynen (KU Leuven), Anne Malliet (Vlaams Bouwmeester), Sarah Poot (poot architectuur), and Caroline Voet (Voet architectuur) made up the panel, and the moderator was Fredie Floré (KU Leuven).

During the debate, the panel of women discussed why the representation of women in the field is so important, and how the presence of women in both architectural history and contemporary architectural practice is necessary for future generations. In dialogue with each other and the audience, they discussed finding your place as a woman in the field and the challenges this brings, feminism in architecture, role models and key figures, entrepreneurship and creativity.