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AJ student survey: nearly half of female students experience sexism

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Nearly half of women architecture students have experienced gender discrimination, according to early findings from the 2017 AJ Student Survey

The poll of nearly 500 UK-based students revealed that 48 per cent of female respondents had suffered some sort of discrimination based on their gender – in comparison to just 12 per cent of male students.

A typical response from one female student was: ‘It is still a male-dominant course and this can sometimes make things more difficult for myself and my female friends on the course – whether it’s our fellow male students making jokes or talking down to us; or speaking over us and not allowing us to fully participate; or the male tutors favouring male students and giving us less support.’

The figure marks a slight decrease from last year’s student survey, when exactly half of women respondents said they had experienced sexism at some point.

However Manisha Patel, a partner at PRP, described the still high levels of discrimination as ‘saddening’.

She added: ‘Here we are, in the 21st century, a creative, innovative and forward-thinking global profession and yet we cannot tackle this very base problem of discrimination on the basis of gender, even at the grass roots of our profession.’

Other responses to the 2017 survey:

‘Female speakers are far less respected during reviews, and regardless of how well they express themselves, they pretty much always get interrupted by male reviewers.’

‘Gender is a huge issue, particularly among the workshop technicians.’

‘There are still beliefs hanging around that boys do boys things (such as technical detailing) and girls do girls things (such as interior design).’

‘The tutors were especially sexist, often commenting on clothes I wore or my hairstyle. This was done in front of my peers, leaving me very embarrassed. I became nervous to voice an opinion as I was considered a “dumb blonde”. I was told by one tutor that I should have studied fashion.’

As revealed last week, the survey also showed that significantly more women than men were being put off going into architecture before they even completed their courses.

Almost nine out of ten (87 per cent) of the nearly 500 UK-based students who took the survey said they had planned to become an architect at the start of their course. This figure is similar for male (88 per cent) and female (85 per cent) students.

However the proportion of full-time female students who said they still intended to become a fully-qualified architect once their course had begun fell markedly – to just 63 per cent. This compares with 79 per cent of male students.

This suggests that more than a quarter of the women who had wanted to become an architect before university, changed their mind once they had started their studies.

One female respondent wrote: ‘I’m thinking of becoming a mum one day and I’m worried that with this stressful pace of work and little money I’ll not be able to do it.’

The  2017 AJ Student Survey results also revealed some significant statistics on other types of discrimination, including age, race and sexuality.

One fifth of respondents (20 per cent) said they had experienced some form of discrimination based on their age.

Moreover, a notable number of respondents said they have experienced some form of discrimination based on their race or sexuality – 15 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

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