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RIBA Council shocked by sexist comments

RIBA councillor Peter Phillips was condemned last week following a speech in which he called for an end to the campaign to stop sexism in architecture.

Phillips was attacked after he claimed that 'it is well known' that women are 'not as spatially aware as men and are not as suited to the profession'.

He called for the RIBA to end funding for its satellite Architects for Change, describing its recent report, Why Women Leave Architecture, as 'sexist, racist and nothing more than an attempt at social engineering'.

However, Architects for Change, Women in Architecture and RIBA councillors dismissed the comments, which president George Ferguson described as 'taking us back a generation'.

Phillips, in a council debate, said the report was flawed in its research, as the sample surveyed was self-selecting, and its conclusions misplaced.'This report and its recommendations, ' he said to jeers from those assembled, 'would have been a credit to the thought police of the former communist regimes.'

And he attacked the report's demands for the provision of part-time working and greater employment flexibility.'These simply are not feasible in many small practices, 'he added.

But Women in Architecture chair Angela Brady condemned the comments as 'archaic'. 'He is trying to draw attention to himself by being as controversial as possible, ' she said.'If Phillips had bothered to read our report, he would understand it is people like him that are forcing women to leave the profession.'

And RIBA councillor Chris Roche agreed: 'I've said before that the profession is racist, sexist, ageist and homophobic. Peter Phillips' comments illustrate this.

'What is scary is that there are many people in the profession that would agree with him, ' Roche added. 'So it is positive that Peter has stood up and highlighted this outdated vein of opinion.'

Architects for Change founder Sumita Sinha said she was unsurprised to hear the comments. 'They are depressing but not surprising, ' she said. 'I only hope the people who elected him did not know what he really stood for.'

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