Trends that define architecture also define this curatorial catchall of a show - and define women in the field. Women alone, paralleling smaller firms everywhere, have mixed jobs: Megan Lawrence in partnership with her husband has designed everything from offices and residences to a blimp hangar in New Jersey to mark the spot where the Hindenberg went down.
Unquestionably, in the show and in the field, such husband-wife teams fare better for women. A joint practice allows the luxury of child-rearing without permanent retirement. An architect for 20 years, Barbara Neski maintained her skills at home and returned to a shared practice.
She, like most women architects, recalls a decade of change for the good. ''It used to be that clients would discuss everything about the house with my husband,'' the architect recalls. ''Then it came time for the kitchen and they talked to me.'' Now clients and construction crews respond to her professionally.
Younger women in the AWA still feel they have the harder route, nonetheless. Although some schools (Columbia, Cooper Union) may count 40 or 50 percent female students, others don't (Harvard has only 10 percent, chosen from 10 percent female applicants, however). Meanwhile, women account for only 1.9 percent of the nation's registered architects, and bias remains.
Interviewed for a job in the late 1970s, Nancy Vigneau found the familiar refrain. ''They just think you're doing it for a hobby. The first question is: 'When are you getting married?' '' That's her description of the inquiry from one of the largest firms in Hartford, Conn. After two years, it finally said, ''You're not getting married.''
Nonetheless, most AWA members report progress. If their exhibition underscores variety vs. achievement, founder Regi Goldberg asks for forbearance: ''Women are just proving themselves,'' she says, citing the organization's starting goals: places in universities; visibility in the press and architecture community; encouragement to register as an official architect; and support in opening their own practices. In 1973, 80 percent of male architects took the final step (registration) and only 20 percent of the women, she says. Today women have reached 60 percent.