Golden Empire's First Female Architects

Architecture used to be a man’s game, but those days are gone. It was 1885 when Louise Blanchard Bethune of New York, became the first American woman known to have worked as a professional architect. In 1991, one hundred and six years later, the city of Bakersfield acquired its first two female architects, Yvonne Cohrs and Erin Simpson. Not only was it a nice year to gain two new licenses, but the addition of two women changed the game. Both women served on the chapter Board of Directors as Associate Representatives and became the first two women on the Board. Both were also active members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For nearly a century and a half, women have been proving their passion and talent for architecture and their enrollment in architecture schools has increased. Yet the number of women working as licensed architects remains persistently low, and the higher you look up the ladder in the profession, the scarcer women become. Today women account for 36 percent of newly licensed architects and only 18 percent of the AIA’s membership is female. Forty-five percent of architecture students and 42 percent of interns are women, but a mere 17 percent are firm principals and partners, according to 2017 NCARB Demographics.Women are graduating from architecture school at decent numbers but not finding their way to either AIA member or principal status.It's clear that compared to men, women are getting lost in the journey to the top of the profession but as the numbers and awareness rise change is coming.

Golden Empire chapter has a new generation of women taking a lead and bringing about change. Our chapter is currently 16% female with 6 female architects. All 6 members have been or are currently Board members and have played an active role in AIA.

Jeannie S. Bertolaccini, AIA - 2018 President, 2017 Vice President, 2016 Director, 2011-2012 Director

Elizabeth Hernandez, AIA - 2018 Director

Mandy Freeland, AIA - 2016 President

Katie Kreiser, AIA - 2016-2017 Treasurer

Stephanie Hunter, AIA - 2014 President, 2013 Vice President, 2012 Director

Alyssa Grishaber, AIA - 2014-2015 Associate Director

Although we have a long way to go before architecture reaches equality in gender, we've come a long way baby!

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