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‘What’s next for women in architecture?’

We’ll get you started, but the rest is up to you, writes Christine Murray

I received a welcome email from Sarah Wigglesworth this week, congratulating the AJ on its Women in Practice issue (AJ 12.01.12). But her email also asked a question: Where does this go next?

For the AJ, what’s next is the Women in Architecture Awards, three prizes created to boost the profile of women in the industry. I hope you will nominate yourself or someone you know for the Jane Drew Prize, Woman Architect of the Year and Emerging Architect of the Year. We hope these awards will inspire young women by providing role models and as a benchmark for their future success.

And speaking of benchmarks, the other ‘next’ for the AJ is this week’s news feature with fresh findings from the AJ Women in Practice survey that show a glass ceiling in director-level pay for women in senior positions. The AJ100 median salary for directors is £75,000 but just 47 per cent of female directors, partners, managers or sole-practitioners working full-time said they earned over £51,000 per annum, even though 84 per cent of their male equivalents surveyed earned that much or more.

What’s next on equal pay? When it comes to pay and salary negotiations, there is only so much the AJ, or indeed the RIBA, can do. As Sarah Wigglesworth said in her piece for the Women in Architecture edition, ‘Women themselves must step up to the mark, regain the political initiative and fight for these principles. Nobody else will do it for us.’ The AJ can provide you with data to measure your earnings, but women and men who find themselves underpaid will have to negotiate a fairer deal.

Interestingly, we also looked at the 100 male responses to Women in Architecture survey and found that many male parents also feel resentful of the culture of architectural practice. Nearly a quarter of women and 18 per cent of men, resigned from their practice after having children, but did not leave architecture entirely, choosing instead to set up their own practice, become self-employed or get a more flexible position elsewhere.

Practices without a family-friendly working culture are not only losing valuable staff, they are gaining competitors.

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