Zelma Wilson

#OverIt Moment: Wilson’s male colleagues constantly challenged her role in the architectural field. A prospective male employer asked her if she ever cried on the job, and she replied, “I don’t, but I’ve made a few contractors cry.”

Zelma Wilson, born Zelma Gussin, was born on November 23, 1918 in New York City, New York. She studied art at the University of California Berkeley before studying architecture at USC, where she was the only woman in her graduating class in 1947. When she moved to France with her family in 1952, Wilson pursued her interest in sculpture at the École des Beaux-Arts and later earned her architecture license in 1957. Wilson returned to Ojai, California in 1964 and soon opened her own architectural practice, Zelma Wilson and Associates, AIA, in 1967. She was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1983, has lectured on architecture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and served on the California State Governors Emergency Task Force on Earthquake Preparedness.

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