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AJ100 practices fail to bridge the gender gap

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Lack of flexibility blamed for persistent inequality at Britain’s 100 largest practices

Female architects remain under-represented in Britain’s top 100 firms, comprising just 25 per cent of qualified architects, figures from this year’s AJ100 list of Britain’s biggest practices show.

According to figures submitted in December 2008, just 9 per cent of the 258 qualified architects employed at Archial are female, while at Capita Architecture,
just 11 per cent of 250 architects are female.

The most equal employer in the AJ100 list was Darling Associates, where 50 per cent of staff is female, followed by Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects (48 per cent) and Colman Architects (47 per cent).

According to women in the profession contacted by the AJ, a lack of flexibility over working hours and an inherently male culture at established firms are key reasons for the low figures.

‘Our profession hasn’t adapted,’ said Cindy Walters of Walters and Cohen. ‘The debate grinds to a halt over childcare. There needs to be more understanding.’

Denise Bennetts (pictured left) of Bennetts Associates said: ‘I think the fundamental issue is to do with flexibility. The profession has to recognise women will have different needs at different times in their lives.’

Christopher Darling, managing director at Darling Associates said: ‘Obviously, when people leave to have children, it is disruptive. But, as a business, we have to play our part.’

Agnieszka Glowacka (pictured right), director of Glowacka Rennie, said: ‘Offering flexibility and having an open-minded attitude to fitting work around life on the part of the employer would help.’

Women architects have also been disproportionately hit by the recession. The Office for National Statistics recently revealed that 25 per cent of architects claiming jobseeker’s allowance are female.

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