Parity Group wins Prix Meret Oppenheim

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The Parity Group in discussion.The Parity Group in discussion.
The grass-roots movement founded by architectural students and scientific staff has been awarded the Prix Meret Oppenheim in recognition of its engagement in driving fundamental change in the Department of Architecture of ETH Zurich.

The Parity Group is a movement established by students and scientific staff in 2014 as a platform for advancing gender equality and diversity in architecture and for promoting critical discussion about the institution.

The Group has now been awarded the Prix Meret Oppenheim by the Federal Office of Culture, which confers the prizes on the recommendation of the Federal Art Commission.

More female professors appointed

The Parity Group has ensured that greater prominence is given to gender and diversity in everyday life and in the decisions taken by the Departement of Architecture. One example has been its pushing for parity in the selection of jury members, invitation of critics and hew hires. In this way it has also played a role in the appointment of more female professors of architecture at ETH Zurich.

Since 2016 the Group has organised its annual Parity Talks. In 2018, it was at its request that the Parity and Diversity Commission was founded, a body embodied in the departemement’s by-laws that continuously monitors whether the department is reaching its parity and diversity goals.

In 2021 the Group was instrumental in commissioning Belgian movement Engagement Arts to cast a critical eye on the departement ( interview with Head of Department Tom Emerson ).

Role model in Switzerland and abroad

The Federal Office of Culture has the following to say about the Group: "The continuous engagement and work of the Parity Group have brought about a sea change at the Departement of Architecture, with a ripple effect within the school that has extended to the architectural community in general, as well as to other educational institutions in Switzerland and abroad, which have followed in the Zurich group’s footsteps by setting up parity and diversity initiatives of their own."

Head of Department Tom Emerson says: "It is a wonderful acknowledgement that this grass roots organisation not only had a profound effect on the culture and conduct within the departement but has impact beyond in society at large."

In addition to the Parity Group, art historian Stanislaus von Moos and artist Uriel Orlow received awards. The official award ceremony will take place in Basel on 12 June.