While the creator of the Shitty Media Men list, Moira Donegan, never intended for the spreadsheet to become a defining document of the #MeToo moment, the crowdsourced list has inspired a number of replicas in other fields: fashion, academia, and most recently, architecture. In a revealing as-told-to with Fast Co. Design, the creator of the Shitty Architecture Men list describes the gender power imbalance in the industry, her personal experience, and how she wants to combat sexual harassment.
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that decorated architect Richard Meier had stepped from his firm after five women accused him of sexual harassment — architecture’s first major #MeToo moment. According to the creator of the Shitty Architecture Men list, though, sexism has always been ingrained in the industry.
Many firms are structured around a “Great Man” with a singular vision, which lowly employees are tasked with carrying out. It’s very top-down. This can create power imbalances that make junior employees vulnerable to exploitation, whether it’s harassment, pay inequality, or something else.
She then goes on to describe her own experience working as a woman in architecture, where “everything is done by network.”
As a young woman in the architecture field, I became acutely aware that my gender and my youth and my looks and charm were instrumental to the development of my career. I became very conscious of flirting in interviews. I remember thinking, I need to let this famous architect hug me. I don’t want him to hug me, but I’m a young woman, and I don’t want to alienate this powerful man.
While she admits that she doesn’t have specific preventative measures in mind to combat sexual harassment in the industry, she concludes her open letter with one resounding sentiment: Make sexual predators afraid.
Make it risky to harass someone. Make it scary to harass someone. Make people worried about getting found out. Create actual stakes the same way that women have been balancing the stakes for decades. The balance of power has been with white men for so long.
Read the full letter here.