International Women's Day

Lists of notable architects and planners in the built environment are too often dominated by men.

But our sector is chock full of brilliant, creative female minds.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, here are just a few of our favourite, both past and present.

Jane Jacobs

Planner and activist, New York City (1916-2006)

Author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane pioneered the concept of walkable, mixed-use neighbourhoods, and brought ground-breaking ideas about how cities function to the fore.

She was a strong advocate for a community-based approach to urban planning, encouraging a movement of neighbourhood activism which derailed the popular car-centred approach to urban planning, halting the expansion of motorways across New York City.

Kate Macintosh

Architect and social housing pioneer, UK (born 1937)

For us, Kate Macintosh represents the best of modern architecture, creating places that celebrated functionalism and minimalism but also striving for social justice in her work. Perhaps her most famous work is Dawson’s Heights in Dulwich; a dramatic block which sits imposing on the skyline but which uses an arrangement of interlocking shapes to create intimate clusters of balconies for its residents.

Farshid Moussavi OBE

Architect and author, USA (born 1965)

British-Iranian Moussavi is known for designing the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland and Yokohama International Ferry Terminal.

In a recent interview she shared how she strives to connect her work with the social and political context it sits in, advocating an approach of always learning rather than assuming you “know” what architecture is.

This year, she has won the Jane Drew Prize, in recognition of her career to date and her role in elevating women in the industry.

And here’s a couple more who, whilst not architects or planners, we just couldn’t not mention:

Malala Yousafzai

Human rights activist, Pakistan and UK (born 1997)

Malala is an inspiring example of how change can be brought about through standing up for what you believe in – even in the face of violence. Surviving an attack by the Taliban when she was 15 spurred her on to campaign relentlessly for every girl’s right to receive an education.

In between her own studies, she works at the Malala Fund, which campaigns for a world where every girl can learn and lead.

Naomi Klein

Climate activist, author and journalist, Canada (born 1970)

New York Times bestselling author of How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Earth and Each Other (2021) among many others.

She is inspiring because she doesn’t just write about the problems facing our climate, but she’s putting her ideas into action. In 2015 she founded The Leap Manifesto which created a blueprint for how we can transition away from fossil fuels, in a way that also addresses inequality and injustice.