The number of female architects working for the country’s largest practices has risen for the third year in a row
There were 360 more women architects employed by the top 100 firms this year (1,762 in total) compared with last year (1,400).
The number of women across all AJ120 firms averages 29 per cent – a one percentage point rise year-on-year and seven percentage points more than the 22 per cent recorded on the ARB register.
The top 10 practices are leading the way. With the exception of Atkins – the only firm that failed to report its figures for female architects – all of the top 10 practices employ above average numbers of female architects and, at 34 per cent, this is up six points from last year.
In three practices – KPF, Michaelis Boyd and NBBJ – female architects outnumber the men. Elsewhere, however, there has been a backward slide. Perennial equality champions Darling and Paul Davis and Partners (now PDP London), whose practices both employed more women than men last year, have seen the proportion of female architects fall to 40 and 38 per cent respectively.
Jo McCafferty, director at Levitt Bernstein, of which 49 per cent of architects are female, said: ‘Keeping female talent in the profession is incredibly important.’
She added: ‘We offer a variety of flexible working options to our staff, and craft workable solutions around each individual. This takes time and thought but it’s worth it.
‘Our board of directors is a 50/50 split male and female – not unique but certainly very unusual in larger architectural practices. Leadership is a very clear demonstration of our ethos as a practice.’
Among those with the lowest proportion of women on their payrolls were B3 and Adam Architecture.
Response from ADAM Architecture
The rather old-fashioned way the AJ rates practices – registered architects only with ARB equivalent qualifications – is a journalistic curiosity but the same cannot be said when sweeping and negative conclusions are drawn from it. We accept that the limitation to architects normally puts us outside the top 100 whereas, in fact, we have 76 technical staff from 9 countries, although it does seem strange that “practices” are only assessed by counting architects while architectural technologists and other well-qualified technical and essential support staff are left out. We do not, however, accept that this extremely partial analysis gives the AJ the right to rate us in any category as “worst”, and especially not in the employment of women. If we take a realistic view of our practice, 25 per cent of our technical staff are women and across all staff 37 per cent. We support the AJ’s drive for more women in architecture and we would be delighted if more female architects applied to work with us; we employ staff on talent, not on gender.