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Zaha Hadid photo by Steve Double

Zaha Hadid slams "misogynist behaviour" in UK architecture

News: Zaha Hadid has railed against the UK's "misogynist" attitude towards women architects after a survey of women in the profession found nearly a third knew they were paid less than their male counterparts for the same job.

Hadid, a former winner of both the Stirling Prize and the Pritzker Prize, told the Observer newspaper she found it "difficult" to work in the UK. "They are very conservative," she said. "There is a scepticism and more misogynist behaviour here. Although, while there were people against me, there were also people living here who were incredibly supportive."

She also rejected the idea that things are getting better for women architects. "I doubt anything has changed much over the last 30 years," she said, later adding: "In my view the changes within RIBA [Royal Institute of British Architects] are nonexistent."

Hadid, whose best-known projects include the Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympics and the MAXXI museum in Rome, said it is often assumed that women are better suited to designing houses, public buildings and leisure centres rather than large-scale commercial projects. "I am sure that as a woman I can do a very good skyscraper," she said. "I don't think it is only for men."

"It is a very tough industry and it is male-dominated, not just in architectural practices, but the developers and the builders too," she added, noting that childcare issues often hold women back from the top jobs in the industry. "I can't blame the men, though. The problem is continuity. Society has not been set up in a way that allows women to go back to work after taking time off."

Hadid's remarks were prompted by research carried out by the Architects' Journal into the status of women in the profession. Nearly two thirds of respondents said they had experienced sexual discrimination in the workplace, while 61% thought clients in the building industry did not fully accept the authority of female architects.

Last month construction began on Hadid's planned extension to a centre for studying Middle Eastern culture at the University of Oxford.

Earlier this year we reported that developers in Chongqing had copied the designs for Hadid's planned Wangjing Soho complex in Beijing, with the two projects now racing to be completed first.

See all architecture by Zaha Hadid »