Gender diversity in architecture

A recent survey conducted by Dezeen revealed shocking statistics on the lack of gender diversity at senior level for the 100 biggest architecture practices in the world*.

  • 3 out of the 100 practices are led by women, of which all 3 of these firms are Scandinavian;

  • 2 out of the 100 practices have management teams comprised of more than 50% women;

  • 10% of the highest-ranked roles are taken up by women;

  • 18% of all senior and middle management tier positions are held by women; and

  • 16 of the 100 practices have no women at all in senior positions.

The results highlighted that at each ascending tier of management, the percentage of women decreases. It is disappointing to learn that the architecture profession has such huge gender disparity at management level. In the UK, 39% of the architects that qualified last year were women. Yet these statistics reveal that female architects do not appear to progress as far in the industry as their male colleagues.

Men are part of the problem and therefore need to be part of the solution in promoting female equality in architecture. Practices need to be transparent about wanting to making a change. Clear objectives need to be set and followed up with trackable actions. For example, a review of how work is allocated in the office can ensure women get similar experience and opportunities to their male peers. There are a number of actions practices can put in place immediately and three key solutions in reaching female equality in the workplace include:

  1. Equal pay for equal work. Paying employees fairly and equally based on experience level, not on gender.

  2. Childcare options and flexible working hours. Providing work-life balance as part of the wider company culture for both men and women.

  3. Mentoring programs for high potential women leaders. Women often miss out on great opportunities because they mistakenly believe they are under-qualified.

Plan A Consultants are committed to equal opportunities in employment and through our service delivery for both Design Management and Health & Safety. Where the majority of our clients are architecture practices, it is refreshing to work in an organisation where women are asked to lead on this discussion within the organisation. We believe that it is important to create a dialogue between genders that focuses on not just fairness, but delivering the best work through a broad representation of views and experiences.

* As listed in the 2017 edition of World Architecture 100, international architecture practices ranked by size.

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