To mark Women’s History Month, Moira Moser discusses her story, giving advice to women in architecture. She overcame gender barriers to become a highly successful woman in a male-dominated profession. It’s a story about courage, perseverance and as Moira says, the willingness to “just keep going”.
Moira shares experiences with many women in architecture. People refusing to work with her based on her gender, the outrageous excuses behind job rejections and other stories.
Resilience is a theme in the conversation, a trait Moira has shown continuously in her career. She reassures listeners (and particularly women) saying, “We can do so much more than we think we can”. This ceiling-less vision and determination has empowered her to build M Moser to what it is today.
• Relationships between people and design
• Potential of a global approach
• Why representation matters
• Nurturing women leaders
Moira saw the connection between design and people early in her life. The undergrad courses she came across didn’t focus on the experience of people. She believed, “buildings are for people, we experience them and they have an influence on us”.
However, a humanities course at Scripps College appealed to her. The college offered the opportunity to study “people, societies and the interactions of individuals and art”. This focus on the experience of people has become a key characteristic of our way of working.
Travelling allowed Moira to see different design approaches. Despite physical distance between people, Moira felt, “clear commonalities of needs for the future were much stronger than the differences between cultures”.
Designing for clients around the world appealed to her. She proudly states that at M Moser, “as a global organisation we rejoice in the many differences and various cultures of the people we have from all over the world”.
Our firm’s portfolio of quality work across the globe is a testament of our appeal to all types of clients from different backgrounds. These clients trust us to design quality spaces for their people.
It was at an international conference of women architects in Iran in 1973 (other notable attendees being Gae Aulenti and Denise Scott Brown) where Moira witnessed the power of women representation in architecture. She recalls seeing shocked women looking at each other and admits it seemed they were all, “suffering under the idea that the architecture world is a man’s world”.
Seeing other women architects empowered Moira. It also made it clear to her that, “we’re all moving ahead in the industry one way or another and supporting each other”. The conference (organised by women) enabled women architects to have constructive discussions about issues in the industry.
Moira is proud that M Moser ensures, “every individual has opportunity to advance their talent and capability to the maximum. We are a very horizontal organisation, it’s not a top-down situation. There are a lot of individuals who take responsibility which is key”.
From first-hand experience, Moira understands the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. This is the reason she believes, “as a founder I could never put a glass ceiling on the firm for the women, that would be ridiculous, we’ve always nurtured women leaders”.
Speaking on women wanting to develop and strengthen their voice in their industries, Moira suggests, “the key to growth for women in any organisation is to take responsibility and not wait to be asked to do something, but to go ahead until someone stops you”.
This conversation is part of the “Place of work” podcast series featuring challenging discussions exploring design, workplace, strategy and the future of work.
Chairman & Founder, M Moser Associates