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Architect Survey Sees Gender, Race Gap

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

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Most female architects in the U.S. feel that there remains a gender gap in the industry, but males in the profession are divided on the issue, a new report shows.

However, both genders agree that people of color are underrepresented in the design field.

AIA survey

More than 7,500 professionals participated in the American Institute of Architect's diversity survey.

Those are a few of the conclusions of the American Institute of Architects’ “Diversity in the Profession of Architecture” survey, released Monday (March 7). The executive summary of the survey of more than 7,500 professionals is available here.

A Need for Data

The survey is the Institute’s first major survey on the subject since 2005.

“We need data, not anecdotes. We need reliable, quantifiable, and verifiable data. Without it, we cannot gain a credible picture of how far we’ve come in the past 10 years,” writes 2015 AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, in the survey introduction.


© / SolisImages

AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter says the progress in terms of diversity is being made but not fast enough. Both men and women face challenges in the industry.

Richter says the profession is making progress on the issue of diversity but “not fast enough.”

“The world around us is changing much faster and we can do better.”

The release of the survey data coincides with the Women in Construction week, held March 6-12. Organized by the National Association of Women in Construction, the week-long event aims to highlight women as visible components of the construction industry.

Women Underrepresented

The AIA Survey participants identified “concern about work-life balance” as the main reason women are underrepresented in architecture field, suggesting that leaders in the industry could spearhead a shift in the professional culture.

“Not only would [a cultural change] address one of the primary concerns of women in the industry, but also it would benefit the field as a whole,” according to the report.

Additional reasons cited for the underrepresentation of women include lack of flexibility to work remotely, and long work hours that make starting a family difficult and thereby drive women to leave the field.

Lower Pay, Less Likely to Be Promoted

When it comes to equal pay, women, more than men, feel that they are not likely to get equal compensation in comparable positions and are often encouraged to pursue interior design or other design fields rather than architecture, the survey indicated.


© / IPGGutenbergUKLtd

Work-life balance was named the top reason why women are underrepresented in architecture, according to the AIA.

Women believe they are less likely to be promoted to senior-level positions, the report found.

In addition, women also somewhat believe that they are less likely to receive job opportunities when completing school, according to the findings.

The report suggests several ways architects feel they could retain current female architects and attract them to the field, including developing a mentorship program, offering credentials for architects who wish to return to the profession after taking an extended leave of absence, and providing clear written criteria for promotion.

People of Color in Architecture

"Unlike with gender, both whites and people of color clearly agree that people of color are underrepresented in the industry," the AIA said in its survey report.

The factors perceived to be responsible for keeping people of color out of the architecture field include affordability of a degree in architecture, the report said, noting that people of color, especially those from inner cities, may have difficulty in affording the costs of the programs.

Other factors noted were a lack of architecture role models for people of color, as well as a general lack of knowledge about architecture as a career option.

The report suggests that initiatives like community outreach to middle and high school students by university architectural programs and industry-funded college scholarships for people of color to study architecture might help combat the underrepresentation.

Overall Job Satisfaction

The study also looked at job satisfaction across the field.

It found that half of the respondents reported high satisfaction with their jobs overall, though few were highly unsatisfied.

Less than half of all architects are satisfied with their work-life balance, with the recognition they receive for work accomplished or with the frequency of working on meaningful projects.

Satisfaction was low regarding salary and fairness and transparency of their employers’ promotion and compensation practices, the survey found.

Men reported the highest job satisfaction. Women and men of color are less satisfied, the report noted.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Construction; Design; Good Technical Practice; Market; North America; Trends

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