DECONSTRUCTING THE GLASS CEILING
Seven years ago, I began my career at a company where the majority of staff are women – only two, at that time, were men. That was Vogue China. Helmed by the Chinese version of Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada, the editor-in-chief is leading a female crusade that publishes the quintessential fashion bible – one that men in the country look up to. The women at Vogue China are stylish, confident and powerful, but chief among all, harder working than many others in the industry. Starting in an office like that was empowering and, fortunately, I'm still working with a cluster of forwardthinking people. But women's issues have not been on the wider agenda until recently. Professor Nasrine Seraji, head of Hong Kong University's Faculty of Architecture and student judge of this year's A&D Trophy awards, told me that half of architectural students are women, but the percentage who actively practice is less than a third – and much less when it comes to women who are partners in architectural firms. What prevents female graduates and professionals from reaching their full potential? Clearly, something, somewhere is falling short.
Women's issues have never been so under the global spotlight as they are now, from accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of authority to questions about pay and promotion. Such matters will continue to be debated at length around channels beyond the pages of this magazine, I'm sure. For our part, we have chosen to celebrate the work of women creatives who have gained significant independent success internationally. On the cover is South Africa-born Kelly Hoppen, who has been dubbed 'the queen of interiors' for her style and drive. Also in this issue, Hong Kong's Joyce Wang, who is responsible for many of the city's more tasteful hospitality destinations, chats about one of her latest projects at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. Hella Jongerius, from the Netherlands, explains her interpretations of the use of colour in products and interiors. And Seraji, who was born in Iran, studied in London and moved to Paris where she established her own company – and who also now lectures in Hong Kong on architecture as well as gender topics – talks about the role of women in architecture and design. "We cannot take the issues of inequality so lightly," she notes. In studying women's achievements, we look forward to the day of acclaiming the work of, perhaps, more Zaha Hadids – brilliantly talented architects who are celebrated for their work, regardless of their sex.