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Sarah El Ouazzani on Who Needs the Top
7 October, 2023
In Esperdy’s manifesto, Who Needs the Top? An Ungentle Manifesto (2019), she delivers a powerful feminist critique of the architectural profession, focusing on women’s under representation and the prevailing sexism within the field. In this thought-provoking piece, she challenges conventional notions of success and hierarchy in contemporary society and urges readers to reconsider the obsession with reaching the top due to the patriarchal power structures that have historically shaped our understanding of success.
Esperdy argues that this obsession often leads to inequality, exploitation, and a disregard for the well-being of individuals and communities. This manifesto thus takes a bold stance against the male-dominated power structures in architecture, emphasizing the need for women to challenge and reverse these established regimes. In doing so, the author confronts the traditional hierarchy that has marginalized women in contemporary architecture culture. In this context, Esperdy’s manifesto serves as a rallying cry for women to demand their rightful place in the profession.
In addition, the manifesto aligns itself with feminist principles that prioritize collaboration, equality, and social justice. It stresses the importance of dismantling the star system in architecture that often elevates male icons while diminishing the contributions of women. Esperdy highlights the persistent sexism in the field, emphasizing the need to combat it both through media representation and in-person agency.
Esperdy’s manifesto is, in short, a call to action for women within the architectural profession and beyond. Although our professional practice has recently made slow progress in thinking, it urges individuals to challenge the status quo, resist the enduring presence of male icons, and work collectively to create an inclusive architectural culture. In this way, she highlights the imperative of breaking deep-rooted gender biases and promoting a more collaborative and egalitarian environment within our field.