This revolution in professional practice will be highly positive for the future of the design professions. Consider these 15 women who are changing the world of architecture:

The gender talent mixes in architecture firms today powerfully affect collaboration, creativity, and innovation. The interactive nature of talent in firms with inter-gender leadership creates its own competitive strategies that set them apart. I was just meeting with a firm last week where we’re doing some work around goals and priorities—one of the breakaway ideas was that the next partner of the firm (by policy) would be female. It’s a policy that makes a whole lot of sense.

If “power” means the ability to make things happen, then design organizations would be well advised to get women into leadership positions. Shared power (sometimes called coactive power) can enrich and advance the culture of a design firm exponentially. Clients in turn benefit.

Stop and think about the women who are changing the world of design. There are role models in just about every city world-wide. And some of the brightest young people in graduate programs in architecture are women. This revolution in professional practice will be highly positive for the future of the design professions. Consider these 15 women who are changing the world of architecture:

  • Joan Goody, principal, Goody Clancy and Partners

  • Laurinda Spear, principal, Architectonica

  • Billie Tsien, principal, Todd Williams and Billie Tsien Associates

  • Diane Hoskins, principal, Gensler

  • Lucinda Ludwig, principal, Leo A Daly

  • Rebecca Greco, principal, Hammel Green and Abrahamson

  • Cynthia Weese, principal, Weese, Langley, Weese and Dean, Washington University

  • Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, principal, Duany Plater-Zyberk Associates

  • Marilyn Taylor, principal and chair, Skidmore Owings and Merrill

  • Jean Mah, principal, Perkins and Will

  • Barbara Faga, principal and chair, EDAW

  • Zaha Hadid, principal, Zaha Hadid and Associates

  • Debra Lehman-Smith, principal, Lehman-Smith + McLeish Associates

  • Sarah Susanka, principal and author, Susanka Studios

  • Toshiko Mori, Chair, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Positioning women into principalships of power shouldn’t be considered altruism—it’s a strategic imperative. Promotion of talented females should track their ability and leadership skills, not seniority. There is an emerging abundance of female talent today ready for leadership roles with more in the wings. Just as the design of a work environment powerfully affects collaboration and productivity, the mix of genders in leadership positions in a professional firm powerfully affects innovation and creativity. Sometimes, clients understand this before professional firms do. But when firms do, they have a strategic advantage.