PhD defence Erica Smeets-Klokgieters: The rise of the first female architects in the Netherlands

Grada Wolffensperger (1887-1965), de eerste vrouwelijke bouwkundig ingenieur van Nederland, als enige vrouw tussen haar collega's van Openbare Werken Haarlem, 1921. Foto: Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem, collectie Kennemerland
Grada Wolffensperger (1887-1965), the first female structural engineer of the Netherlands, as the only woman among her colleagues of Public Works Haarlem, 1921. Photo: Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem, collectie Kennemerland.

On 21 January, Erica Smeets-Klokgieters defends her thesis titled 'Hulde aan onze kranige architecte! The rise of the first female architects in the Netherlands. In her research she looks at how the academically educated woman entered the architectural profession in the Netherlands.

The first female educated architects

Margaret Staal-Kropholler (1891-1966) is considered to be the first female architect in the Netherlands. In 1917 she, a non-academically educated architect, realised her first building. In that same year, Grada Wolffensperger (1887-1965) was the first woman in the Netherlands to complete her academic architecture education. Twenty more women were to follow Wolffensperger and completed their architectural education before 1946. Some of these women went on to have successful careers. According to Smeets-Klokgieters, it is remarkable that the historiography has never highlighted most of these female graduate architects.

Experiences in a men's world

In her research, Smeets-Klokgieters focuses on these professionally trained women in the architectural profession. She examines why these women became architects in a time when women were expected to look after the family and the household. She examines whether it was possible for women to find work as architects, as this profession was considered typically for men. She also looks at how these women were interacted with during their training and in professional practice.

Start date and time
End date and time
Academiegebouw & online (link)
PhD candidate
Erica Smeets-Klokgieters
'Hulde aan onze kranige architecte!' De opkomst van de eerste vrouwelijke architecten van Nederland.
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. K.A. Ottenheym
Dr D.R.E. Van de Vijver

You can only attend the live event if you have received an invitation. There is a livestream of the event.