Women Landscape Architects Gaining Ground

January 8, 2011 by

Exploring the role of women in landscape architecture, the documentary film, Women in the Dirt, takes us behind the scenes with seven of California’s most influential female designers: Mia Lerher, Andrea Cochran, Cheryl Barton, Isabelle Greene, Katherine Spitz, Pamela Palmer, and Lauren Melendrez.

“I’m interested in the experiential and the perceptual and how that can be applied to the landscape design. Because it’s all about space and when you can tweak people’s movement through space you can also tweak their perception.”–Andrea Cochran

Women, the film demonstrates, are influencing the profession of landscape architecture more today than ever before. Though each of the landscape architects featured has a unique body of work, “their concerns overlap in the realm of sustainability and enduring design.”

By shaping our lives, transforming our cities, and nourishing the environment, landscape architecture, as the film shows, is more than the “simple arrangement of  plants and flowers for corporate spaces and the gardens of rich people.”

“What we can do as landscape architects is look at these notions of materials, and how we can use them to the best advantage, and our resources like water. Water is so precious that we can’t waste it, we have to use it in small amounts, and we have to use it effectively.”–Pamela Palmer

“When I see sycamores, I love them, because they’re not really yellow, they’re not really gold, they’re a little bit brown. They speak of death and rebirth. And they cast this amazing golden glow. So, when we bring that to the city, we’re bringing an amazing piece of art from our ecology into the city.”–Katherine Spitz

“We are so well equipped to deal with the issues of our time. We have a certain level of responsibility to try to make a difference.”–Mia Lehrer

Director Carolann Stoney conceived of the idea for this documentary while she herself was studying landscape architecture. Her short film on the subject received the 2009 American Society of Landscape Architects Honors Award in Communication.


  1. Tweets that mention Women in the Dirt | Urban Gardens | Unlimited Thinking For Limited Spaces -- Topsy.com Pingback said:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Urban Gardens. Urban Gardens said: Women in the Dirt http://goo.gl/fb/eZl9m #communitygardens #experiencing #gardendesign #greensustainable #greenroofs […]

    — January 8, 2011 @ 15:13

  2. Annie Haven said:

    I love what Women in the Dirt have growing on in gardens : ) Annie

    — January 9, 2011 @ 05:52

  3. Potted Vegetable Garden said:

    I just love the photo of that succulent, great colours.
    Marty from the Potted Vegetable Garden!

    — January 12, 2011 @ 06:05

  4. Argia Designs said:

    The succulent is a Dudleya pulverulenta or britonii. One of the few succulents that is actually native to California and a gorgeous landscape plant! 🙂

    — February 9, 2011 @ 23:24

  5. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Thanks for the succulent information!

    — February 10, 2011 @ 17:51

  6. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Thanks for the info here Argia Designs!

    — February 25, 2011 @ 15:15

  7. MLA BETA » Blog Archive » March 2011 Pingback said:

    […] screenings check the website. © 2011 | MIA LEHRER+ASSOCIATES | 3780 Wilshire Boulevard | Suite 250 | Los Angeles California […]

    — March 14, 2011 @ 17:27

  8. Griselda Ommen said:

    “That doesnt mean that there isn’t still prevalent attitude in many quarters that keeps women from prominent positions and creates a pay gap in the profession. And the supposedly enlightened sphere of Academia is no exception. Even though some have risen to positions as Deans, CELA presidents, editors of Journal, etc., only 24% of academics in the field are women. Could that be right? Are universities really less responsive than, say, design/build firms and contractors?

    Well, the most prominent LA program in the country is under some serious scrutiny for its failue to hire women. Just over week ago Martha Scwartz, arguably the most prominent female landscape architect in the country, quit her adjunct position at Harvard because of the LA program’s hiring practices in regards to women. As she pointed out to the interim president and the Harvard Crimson, the program hasn’t hired a woman in a tenured position in over 100 years. â??The world of architecture is still a major, major boysâ?? club, major, itâ??s an uphill battle still for women,â?? said Schwartz.”

    — October 10, 2011 @ 05:40

  9. bop da said:

    There was much crossover in the definitions participants developed for these different categories reflecting the interconnected nature of the petals. â??Rights to Natureâ?? touched on many site imperatives as well as the health imperative, â??Biophilia.â?? Most people felt Rights to Nature should include day-lit views to the outside, healthy air, and basic access to resources. A possible metric that was offered involved creating an inventory of environmental assets at the projectâ??s beginning and making sure these were preserved through post-occupancy.

    — March 6, 2012 @ 04:19

  10. Christina Odell said:

    I appreciate your support for female landscape architects. I am Christina Odell, I was born and raised on a horticultural nursery and am a fully qualified landscape architect starting out on my own, I could do with all the support I can get. It is still a male dominated sector but I hope to join the ranks of successful British landscape architects in the coming months and years. Keep up the great work!

    — May 9, 2012 @ 09:10

  11. Joan Runnheim Olson said:

    Grea article! I present workshops all over the country encouraging females to consider male-dominated careers, such as landscape architect. Next week I will be presenting a workshop to secondary and postsecondary educators/advisors at the Florida FFA Convention in Orlando offering strategies on how to increase and retain the number of females in classes/programs the prepare them for nontraditional careers, aka male-dominated.

    — June 18, 2012 @ 09:14

  12. Documentary Preview: Women in the Dirt | Bitch Flicks Pingback said:

    […] Gardens featured the film on their site back in January: Women, the film demonstrates, are influencing the profession of landscape […]

    — September 20, 2013 @ 10:52

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