An article in the prominent Israeli newpaper Ha'aretz, "A Skirt of Concrete and Cement," about Israeli female architects, notes that while 52% of the students in Israeli architecture programs are female, "the average salary of a female architect in the public sector is 10 percent lower than that of a man in a similar position. And among the 14 largest architectural firms, which employ 40 managers, only five are women." It went on to state:
Things are not so different in other parts of the world. It is therefore not surprising that among all the active female architects in the world, there is only one super-star: British architect Zaha Hadid (whom they always refer to as "a great man"). She once explained in a newspaper interview why she thought there were no outstanding female architects in the world. "There were some well-known female architects," she said, "but they were always part of a man-wife team. Architecture demands dedication 24 hours a day. When women take a break to have children, it is hard for them to go back to it."
It's a curious thing, and I can only speculate on the reasons - architecture is certainly a macho profession, with the largest and most prestigious buildings commanding huge sums of money and having design committees controlled both fiscally and stylistically by men.
Zaha Hadid, the exception, was born in Baghdad in 1950, studied in Switzerland, England, and Beirut, and now lives and works in London. I have known about her quite fascinating work before, mostly because of publicity about a Guggenheim Museum exhibition of her designs earlier in 2006. An interview by Teri Gross with Hadid, after she won the prestigious Pritzker Prize, is in the NPR archives.