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Discrimination - Women in architecture survey 2013

Nearly two thirds of respondents have suffered sexual discrimination in their career

The survey finds that nearly two-thirds of women respondents (63 per cent) have suffered sexual discrimination in their career in architecture, up from 58 per cent last year. This might include inappropriate comments, or being treated differently because of gender or sexual orientation.

Twenty-six per cent of women respondents have experienced or witnessed sexual discrimination monthly or quarterly, with 10 per cent experiencing sexual discrimination at least once a week. More than one third (38 per cent) of women say they have been bullied while working in architecture, up from 33 per cent last year. Bullying seems to be insidious, with respondents highlighting degrading ‘talking down to’ as a particular issue.

Sexual discrimination and bullying is not exclusively a female problem in the industry. While 13 per cent of men have suffered sexual discrimination, more than double (29 per cent) have been bullied while working in architecture.
A massive 73 per cent of women think the ratio of women to men in architecture is currently too heavily male (up from 63 per cent from last year’s survey, a significant 10 point difference).

The status of women within the profession continues to be a cause for concern: 61 per cent of women do not think the building industry has fully accepted the authority of the female architect - the same percentage as last year.

The male view is less pronounced: 61 per cent think the ratio of women to men is too heavily male (up from 57 per cent last year). Forty-one per cent of male respondents do not think the building industry has fully accepted the authority of the female architect - a substantial 20-point difference from the women respondents.

Perception of opportunity is markedly different between men and women. To the question: do you think there are as many opportunities for women as there are for men in architecture? 73 per cent of male respondents answered ‘yes’. But less than half - 45 per cent - of women think they have the same level of opportunity as men. Meanwhile 50 per cent of female respondents think opportunities for women in architecture are getting better, versus 65 per cent of men.

Perhaps the best summary of the situation is the response to the question: would you encourage a woman to start a career in architecture? Sixty-six per cent of male respondents say yes. Less than half of the women respondents - 49 per cent - agree.

‘How often have you suffered or witnessed sexual discrimination in your career in architecture?’

Women respond:

‘Not so much now I am self-employed - it was more regular when I worked within other companies’

‘Where do you draw the line between banter and harrassment?’
‘Probably everyone can say they have been discriminated against in some way. You have to not make it a bigger deal than it is’

‘It’s so commonplace I don’t notice. However, being a woman can have its advantages’

‘Regular and blatant discrimination historically, now more hidden and subtle’

‘On site it can be direct, but you can turn that around just with knowing what you’re doing. In practice it is rare to find; it is the clients I have found to be the most sexist’

‘Do you think there are as many opportunities for women as there are for men in architecture?’

Women respond:

‘There are huge opportunities in architecture for the self-motivated; getting paid for them is another matter’

‘It is harder to create the opportunities’

‘I have never felt my gender has hindered my opportunities’

‘No - because practices are dominated by men and it’s mostly men in senior positions’

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