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Glass ceiling pay gap revealed: 26% of women directors earn less

Second AJ Women in Architecture survey reveals that unequal pay persists, while 89 per cent of women say having children is detrimental to career progression

Women in practice are still paid less than male counterparts, according to the AJ Women in Architecture 2013 survey.

Nearly a third of male architects working full time in the UK earn more than £48k, but less than a fifth of female equivalents earn that much.

The difference is most marked at the top end of the pay scale. At full-time director level in the UK, only 37 per cent of women earn between £61k and £99k a year, compared with 63 per cent of men – a staggering 26 percentage-point difference.

Seven hundred women and 191 men responded to the second AJ Women in Architecture survey, which asked about career challenges, childcare, sexual discrimination and role models.

A massive 89 per cent of women respondents think having children puts women at a disadvantage in architecture – up nine points on last year’s results. Meanwhile 61 per cent do not think the building industry has fully accepted the authority of the female architect.

Low pay, long hours and childcare costs are crippling factors, putting women at a disadvantage

Avanti Architects director Geraldine O’Riordan said: ‘The results do not surprise me. Relatively low pay, long hours and the cost of childcare are crippling factors, putting women at a disadvantage in architecture.’

And Maggie Mullan, partner at Austin-Smith:Lord, said: ‘Do owners intuitively pay their male staff more in the misguided view that they are the “breadwinners” and that women work for pin money? Or is it the case that women don’t tend to be as proactive in seeking reward? It could be a combination of both.’

Dagmar Binsted, senior architect at GMW Architects, said: ‘The issue here is not so much unequal pay on a one-by-one basis, but unequal opportunities. It is a symptom of the majority of female directors being in smaller practices or sole practitioners.’

As a profession need to do more to attract, treat fairly and keep diverse talent, including women

RIBA president Angela Brady added: ‘The profession must lead the way in diversity and equality so that all opinions are taken into account. But as is clearly reinforced by the AJ’s latest survey results, we as a profession need to do more to attract, treat fairly and keep diverse talent, including women. ‘Any employer paying a comparably experienced woman less than a man for the same job is acting abhorrently and illegally.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • John Kellett

    Perhaps women are being cleverer by taking more 'dividend' and less 'salary' in order to take advantage of tax rules?
    Perhaps more women have got more sense than us chaps by getting out of a profession that currently has such little financial reward!
    I wonder how pay compares across the profession with other 'differences' such as height, accent, school, hair colour (ginger!), age and ethnicity etc?
    Speaking as someone who has been 'looked down on' most of his life I think you might be surprised by the results. Discrimination is not always intended. I read another study for another profession (I've forgotten which, it was a while ago) where the pay difference was due to women accepting lower offers. I'm not convinced by that argument but........

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  • Ridiculous statements and graphs. Anything that starts "do you think..." implies that the answers are not fact based and therefore redundant and irrelevant. As architect's most of us believe that we are underpaid and over worked, so as a general rule most of us will assume the worst case scenario applies to us.
    Please re-write the article with some solid factual indformation. But I doubt you will be abvle to achieve this without full disclosure from a range of different sized architectural practices. This way you would have a leg to stand on and not just be putting irrelevant graphs into poorly thought through articles.
    As an industry we need to demmand more money for all, not just men, women, old, young etc.

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  • Christine Murray

    We asked 891 people for their job title and salary rate, 191 men and 700 women, as well as a range of quantitative and qualitative questions - a mix of fact and perception. This is consistent with good research - perception is important in gauging the distance between any perceived pay gap and fact. You will see this done in surveys on crime perception and fact, for example.

    As for the facts, when we compare what respondents have given as their age, job title, salary and location, and compare this information to data we've collected in the AJ State of the Profession survey, the 191 men responding to the Women in Architecture survey, and the RIBA salary bands, it is an unfortunate fact that many women are paid less than men of equal age, job role or experience.

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  • Another speculative response. How can you have any idea about the quality of experience gained and if the responses are truthful. I work in an open and fair office that pays everone equally badly. As previously mentioned, the only way to generate useful and factual articles that don't make such sweeping statements is to obtain the information directly from the companies and have them assess their relevant experience.
    If it is true that some women earn less then this is not right at all and should be addressed, but there are guys, girls and others that earn various ammounts depending on how they entered into their terms and conditions when signing up for a contract. If your skill set is in demmand you have a better barganing chip, it is as simple as that.
    Regarding the career being affected by having a baby, surely that is down to personal choice... if you are no longer able to put in the ridiculous hours that most architects do then you will find yourself slip down the promotion list as others will offer the company more time and effort than somebody who feels they have to leave on time to take care of their families. It is a choice how you prioritise various elements of your life.

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  • Christine Murray

    In our experience, companies are more likely to falsify or misrepresent salary levels than individuals.

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