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Why more women don't choose to be architects

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I read with enormous unease the premises for Mary Wrenn's and Richard Lloyd's letters of complaint (AJ 27.4.00) about an advertisement for the Carpet Foundation which featured a naked woman and the slogan 'high performance for the figure conscious' (AJ 6.4.00).

While I believe it deserves nothing but condemnation, I very much doubt that that this sort of ad has any impact on the low percentage of female members of the profession. The real cause lies elsewhere and the sooner we stop kidding ourselves the better.

If we are honest, we'll find that the problem has to do with the fact that few women or men are willing to commit themselves to about eight years of university education without the prospect of being well paid.

For women, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that some would like to raise a family, and therefore have a shorter participation in the profession. If they were better paid, they could justify their many years of university education as a cost-effective investment.

Reducing the number of years spent in education would have an adverse effect. Perhaps being paid on a par with the legal and medical professions would help. As Roger Lewis, the eminent practitioner, teacher, writer and Washington Post columnist cited in his book Architect? A candid guide to the profession , poor remuneration and a high degree of anxiety are factors of serious concern among young architects.

The profession can also help by visiting schools to give advice during their careers weeks to generate better awareness.

We need a long hard rethink on the matter. Let us stop 'barking up the wrong tree'. It is a waste of time and resources.

B Trenton, London SW9

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