Women are underrepresented in architecture, at least in power positions. The graduation requirements are the same for men and women, and nearly half of all graduates from National Architecture Accrediting Board-accredited schools are women. So why do men dominate the field? That’s what AIA San Francisco’s “Equity by Design” report examines.
The Missing 32 Percent
According to the “Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action!” report, 42 percent of graduates from accredited schools are women. But by contrast, only 28 percent of the architectural staff in all AIA member-owned firms are women. Twenty-eight percent of the licensed architects in these firms and 17 percent of principals and partners are women, says Architect Magazine.
The report explains that in this male-dominated field, women have historically been underrepresented as compared to the population in general. But in decades past, the graduation rates supported the disparity in the workplace. For every 20 men who graduated in 1969, one female made the same accomplishment. The upper rungs in the field continue the old patterns, even though graduation rates have long since moved to more equality.
Chief Issues for Women in Architecture
Job satisfaction, or lack thereof, is a chief issue with female architects. When men identify with about a 41 percent job satisfaction rate, only 28 percent of women say the same. Part of this disparity can be attributed to the fact that even now, women earn much less than men for performing the same job. And surprisingly, the difference in salaries increases with job experience. Women typically earn about $6,000 less than men when first entering the field. But after 10 to as many as 25 years of experience, women earn about $15,000 less than men with equal experience.
The feeling of relevance is another issue that grows with experience. Where men and women are nearly equal with regard to whether or not their work aligned with their goals, and with how likely they were to leave the profession early on in their careers, the longer in the field the more things change. After 15 or more years in architecture, men become more likely to perceive their work as relevant. But it takes women nearly 35 years in the field to match their enthusiasm.
Making Changes That Count
The Equity by Design report wasn’t a project meant to sit on a shelf as a history lesson. The findings have given the committee direction for working toward resolving as many issues as possible. There are now educational workshops and other outreach methods in place. And at the committee’s website, examples of successful architects are used to exemplify the importance of equal and fair representation of women and men in architecture.
Equity in Action Resolution 15-1 is a direct result of the committee’s findings and their goal to level the playing field for men and women, and rectify the disparity that’s been prevalent for so long. The resolution passed with 4,117 votes, says Architect Magazine, and should help promote equality, talent retention, and the advancement of architecture for everyone.
Men and women architects work equally hard to earn the education that should support a lifetime of not just job satisfaction, but also equal representation and pay. Until recently, the numbers have been fairly dismal. But with the Equity by Design movement, things might be looking up for women and for the profession as a whole.
Professional development hours are a reality for women and men in architecture. It’s also part of what keeps the field moving forward instead of becoming stagnant. When your next credit hours are due, check out our courses at PDH Academy and learn why our approach makes your life simpler.