The Australian Institute of Architects has awarded renowned architect Fiona Gardiner the Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity Prize for 2022.
Celebrating a career that has championed women in the built environment and provided extraordinary service to the architectural profession, the AIA announced Gardiner the winner of the Prize at a special International Women’s Day event.
“Fiona Gardiner is a pre-eminent and respected role model for women who has consistently demonstrated relevant, sustained and active leadership,” says Jury Chair and Inaugural Recipient of the Gender Equity Prize, Catherine Baudet.
Gardiner completed her architecture degree at the University of Queensland in 1978, where she is now an Adjunct Associate Professor at the university’s School of Architecture. Graduating with only two other women, Gardiner would navigate through a number of obstacles and adversities women were faced with within the construction industry at that time.
Gardiner completed a master’s degree in conservation at York University and returned to Queensland with this expertise at a time when the state’s historic buildings were under threat from the Bjelke-Petersen government.
“Gardiner navigated a challenging working environment in the public service with professionalism and grace, showing the world that women were valuable team members and great leaders,” Baudet says.
“She advocated for other women and worked to develop and implement non-discriminatory policies.”
Gardiner became the inaugural president of Women in Architecture In 1983, which aimed to raise the profile of women architects through exhibitions, events and radio interviews. She was involved in the first women architects’ exhibition and arranged for female architect international speakers at local conferences.
“These early years of promoting women architects provided the foundations of an attitude that has been fostered since then and passed on to the many women who have encountered her,” Baudet says.
Gardiner became the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Heritage at the Department of Environment and Science. Awarded the Public Service Medal, she created a flexible work environment for employees to accommodate family demands.
The architect has contributed significantly to the identification and promotion of the hidden heritage of women in Queensland architecture through exhibitions, heritage listings and the protection of their work. Gardiner additionally has been heavily involved in developing official policies promoting heritage protection within government agencies and the local community over many decades, as well as lifting the profile of heritage through partnerships formed across government, communities and universities. The Fryer Library at the University of Queensland is a major beneficiary of her heritage research.
Baudet was joined on the Jury by Kylie-JoAnn Hughes RAIA, Chair of the National Committee for Gender Equity, Erin Crowden RAIA, Past EmAGN President and Senior Architect, Proske Architects, Leanne Haidar of SJB Architects and past SONA President and Alison McFadyen, Parlour Representative and Associate Director, Stallard Meek Flightpath.
Image: Digital Archive of Queensland Architecture