The profession responds to the results of the AJ’s Women in Architecture survey which revealed shocking pay inequalities, discrimination and a failure to accept the authority of the female architect
Read the results in full here.
Zoira Chiheb of ZAP Architecture
‘I am saddened by the results, but not in the least surprised. The inflexible options available for both women and men, makes me think more of the days of Mad Men, than an enlightened career structure for 2012.
‘While studying, I often discussed the situation with female peers. We looked to the pitifully few female ‘star-chitects’ at the top of the profession, and the lack of female role-models in the practices we worked in, and wondered how it would be for us once we graduated. Its depressing to hear its exactly the same.
‘I am 27, and still not qualified as an architect, so I understand the sentiments of the respondent who said you just seem to be getting started, once you start thinking about stopping to have a family. There are a series of ways of tackling these issues: I would like to see the development of the part-time role, including job sharing, so that women are better able to stay on in practices and have a family.
Marta Granda Nistal, of Binom Architects
‘Professional associations should be more proactive to make sure that male and female architects are given the same opportunities. There is a long, long way to go until we reach that condition.
‘A deeper analysis could also include figures about how many women are part of executive boards of big architecture and construction companies as well as how many women hold positions such as architecture schools dean or are well-recognized professors or academics.
‘It is not only a question of lacking female star-chitects. All the roles above should create our everyday data base of role models and there are not that many female names currently listed on those positions. This is one of the biggest problems facing women in architecture.
Karen Cook, partner at PLP Architecture
‘As is common to most service industries, the architectural profession is demanding, requiring long and sometimes unsociable hours from those in client facing roles, -regardless of gender. This circumstance is not the malintent of practice heads, but symptomatic of a far broader issue in society today.
‘While in recent years, technological advances have seen the world of work transform at an amazing rate, the adoption of more flexible working practices continues to crawl. This issue prevails throughout business but, as architects, we shouldn’t be afraid to spearhead solutions that will make it possible for more women to contribute their time and talent to its fullest value, benefitting both the profession and society as a whole. After all, the desire to instigate change through design, both physical and societal, is what drives many of us to train as architects.
Helen Lucas, of Helen Lucas Architects
‘When I started my architecture course in 1979 it was so macho that it was not surprising that more than half the females in my year had dropped out by the end of first year.
‘I would sincerely hope that architectural education is now less macho and more accommodating/appreciative of of the qualities a female architect can bring to the profession.
‘The vast majority of female architects from that year run their own businesses rather than working in large commercial firms where they would otherwise be boosting the numbers represented as directors.
The large firm is not always the place of choice for a female architect
The large commercial firm is not always the place of choice for a female architect due to the nature of the work and the nature of the working environment.
‘I experienced discrimination on a mind-boggling scale at the age of 27 when applying for a new job having just got married. I was asked by the man interviewing me if I was intending to have children, the other man interviewing me objected saying I should not be asked that but the proprietor retorted that employing me would be ‘a waste of time if I was just going to get pregnant!’ In another job interview a few years later I was told that a part time worker would be a waste of a desk!
‘My own experience of both being, and employing, part-time workers in my own business, is that they give their all in the hours that they work and are extremely conscientious about completing tasks before leaving to return what might be several days later. Job mobility becomes very difficult if you are looking for part time work because you have small children.
‘For some reason part-time work is often perceived as part-time commitment to the business which is not in my experience true either as an employee or an employer. I agree there are many fantastic female role models you just have to look beyond the ‘award winning’ . There are a huge number of women architects producing quality work for happy clients in Britain today but they are possibly too busy doing this in parallel with raising families to prioritise awards and publicity.’