The AJ Women in Architecture campaign strives to secure equal pay and status
It took 117 years for The Architects’ Journal to produce its first women-focused issue. In January last year, we did it. By April, we had a sold-out awards event. By June, the first of our networking evenings had established the AJ Women in Architecture campaign as an important annual programme - raising awareness about unequal pay and the glass ceiling, while promoting female role models for aspiring architects and celebrating the achievements of women in the profession.
The issue, which controversially featured ‘Architect Barbie’ on the cover - highlighting the gap between fantasy and reality for women working in the industry - was inspired by the detailed AJ Women in Architecture survey, which was completed by 700 women.
We wanted to find out why there is an 80:20 male to female ratio of qualified architects in the UK - and the results were shocking: 47 per cent of women believed they would be paid more if they were male; 11 per cent experienced sexual discrimination at least once a week; 80 per cent said having children put them at a disadvantage in the workplace. The survey results were taken up by the world’s media - from NBC Washington to an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
Lack of role models was highlighted as a key issue in our survey - so we endeavoured to promote existing role models, and make some new ones. The Women in Practice issue featured more than 60 women partners and directors, discovering how they got where they are today, and a series of insightful essays by women who have carved stand-out careers in the sector.
From this base we launched the inaugural Women in Architecture Awards. We marshalled an amazing eight-strong judging panel that included Doreen Lawrence, Victoria Thornton, Martha Thorne, Laura Lee, Peter Rees, Collette O’Shea, Moira Gemmill and Richard Rogers, and reintroduced the Jane Drew Prize for the greatest contribution to the status and profile of women in architecture, awarded to Zaha Hadid.
Our Women in Architecture luncheon at the Langham Hotel was attended by the top women in the profession with speeches by Zaha Hadid and Farshid Moussavi. After the event we received numerous notes of thanks from many prominent women in the industry, not least our winners, Woman Architect of the Year joint-winners Michál Cohen and Sandy Walters of Walters + Cohen, and Hannah Lawson of John McAslan + Partners, Emerging Woman Architect of the Year.
This week, our programme begins again, with the survey, awards, talks, events and the Women in Architecture luncheon on 22 March, again at the Langham Hotel. Our ambition is to continue the AJ Women in Architecture campaign until we see real change in unequal pay and the status of women in the profession.
Entries are now open for this year’s Women in Architecture awards, and this year’s Women in Architecture survey is now online. Whether male or female, architect, client, consultant, technologist or student, I urge you to fill in the survey and nominate a colleague for the awards. Tracking data on salaries, work/life balance, discrimination and childcare issues will allow us to follow changing perceptions of inequality in the profession, and record trends in flexible hours, shared parenting and working culture.
Through awareness, and by celebrating the success of women working in the industry, we believe in time that we can redress the balance.
The AJ Women in Architecture campaign continues into its second year