Did you know that Frank Lloyd Wright’s work was influenced by a female architect?
Marion Mahoney Griffin
In 1894, Marion Mahony Griffin graduated from MIT with an architecture degree as only the second woman to accomplish this feat. She also became the first woman in Illinois to obtain a license to practice architecture. After graduation, she worked as a drafter at an office that Frank Lloyd Wright shared. Wright hired her as his first employee in 1895, quite a revolutionary choice during that time. She worked with him on and off for 15 years designing her own buildings as well as helping him establish his reputation by producing the drawings of his designs in her unique rendering style that most envision when they think of Frank Lloyd Wright.
His willingness and vision to hire a woman to do a job in an industry dominated by men was almost unheard of at the time. It allowed one woman to shine and leave her mark on history. Since that time, women have broken down many barriers and proven themselves not only capable but extraordinary in so many areas never thought possible. Even with all of the success and progress, women can still find themselves needing someone like a Frank Lloyd Wright to “buck the system” and see the possibilities. Society is doing a better job of getting the message out to girls that they are powerful, strong and can do anything. But are we sending that same message to boys? Are we creating the men of the future who are going to be these women’s allies? The ones who are finally going to see equality as the norm?
I’m raising two boys and that doesn’t make my part any less important to the next generation of women. My boys still hear the message that something seen as “girly” is less than and not what they want. One son wanted to sing the solo in his school performance. Some of the boys told him only girls sing, and he questioned whether he should try out. The other one picked out turquoise, alligator skin glasses because that is his favorite color, of course. The sales associate questioned it because the glasses were from the “girl side” of the display. These small things subtly ingrain that their female counterparts are less than and not something that they want to be associated with—the opposite of what their future counterparts deserve.
So with this in mind, my boys will be creating Words of Wisdom canvases right alongside of me in honor of Women’s History month. It is my hope that this will become a tradition for us. For the record, my son sang that solo in the third grade performance, rocked it and continues to love to sing. The other bought those turquoise glasses, loves to wear them and rocks it too. I want them to grow up to be the very allies, the next advocates that the women of the future deserve.
Find out more about Marion’s story and her relationship with Frank Lloyd Wright. Seriously, it is a great read and well worth it.
I also recommend this New York Times article about raising boys to fight stereotypes and pursue their dreams.