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AJ100 2020

AJ100 2020: Women are gaining ground in the profession, but not BAME architects


The profession is becoming more female, but black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) architects remain hugely under-represented in the great majority of AJ100 firms

Number of male and female architects working at aj100 practices in the uk

Women were increasingly well represented in AJ100 practices in 2019, accounting for 2,427 (35 per cent) of all architects within the cohort, up from 2,339 in 2018. The total number of male architects employed in the UK by AJ100 practices has declined slightly from 4,633 to 4,574.

This 35 per cent figure for women architects benchmarks well against ARB statistics, which report that 27 per cent of all 36,054 architects registered as being in the UK are women. This suggests that larger practices are significantly more likely to employ women.

Among individual practices, 77 report that women constitute at least 27 per cent of their employed architects, while women constitute at least half of all UK architects in four practices (Darling Associates, PLP Architecture, Bryden Wood and John Robertson). However, in eight other practices, fewer than one in five architects is a woman.


While the proportion of women among architects employed by AJ100 practices has been slowly rising over the years, little progress has been made in increasing the numbers of BAME architects.

Among the AJ100 practices, eight did not report the number of BAME architects whom they employ, but 96 did so. Collectively, those employed 763 BAME architects, which is just under 11 per cent of the total number of architects, and 13 fewer than last year, although last year only four practices did not provide this information, compared with those eight this year. Overall, this suggests that the number and share of BAME architects has remained the same, rather than increased or decreased significantly.

Since the ARB does not record the ethnicity of the architects on its register, the AJ100 figure is not easy to benchmark against an expected share. Some comparisons can be made using Office for National Statistics numbers. These draw on the Annual Population Survey to record that 6 per cent of architects, town planners and surveyors in the UK were BAME in 2014 to 2016, increasing to 14 per cent for those working in London.

Amended numberofblackasianandminorityethnicarchitectsworkingataj100practicesintheuk

Number of black, Asian and minority ethnic architects working at AJ100 practices in the UK

BAME people constitute at least 14 per cent of all architects in a quarter of AJ100 practices. Practices with high representation include rg+p, which has just under half BAME architects, and PLP Architecture and tp bennett, which have a third. On the other hand, fewer than 6 per cent of architects are BAME in 24 other practices, with seven reporting not employing any BAME architects, despite employing up to 49 architects.

Generally, there is almost no correlation at all between the proportion of women architects and the proportion of BAME architects. This means that practices that are strong (or weak) on one of these dimensions of diversity may be strong, weak or indifferent on the other. rg+p is unusual in being strong on both.

Bruce Tether is professor of management at the Alliance Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester and Research Director of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre.

Diversity survey

The AJ, in partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, has launched a new survey to gather up-to-date evidence on race diversity within architecture.

The move comes two years after the AJ’s first investigation of the issues, the results of which painted a picture of a profession struggling with unacknowledged racism, whereby architects from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds felt the colour of their skin hindered their careers.

Respondents to the 2018 questionnaire – the first of its kind in architecture – gave a unique insight into the ongoing challenges faced by many non-white architects (see Race Diversity Survey: is architecture in denial?).

Click here to take the 2020 survey


Readers' comments (3)

  • I'm sorry but your headline 'Women are gaining ground in the profession...' is not justified by the figures given. The fact that 35% of architects employed by the AJ100 practices are women only shows that 'larger practices are significantly more likely to employ women' as Bruce Tether points out. I also means that every other practice not in the 100 are less likely to meet the benchmark of 27%. One measure that would show women are gaining ground would be an increase in the proportion who are directors or partners in the AJ100 practices. From recollection his was a dismal figure from other reports which you have done.

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  • It has really come to my attention that this issue needs to be treated separately because you are comparing gender with race. Just re-read your headline "AJ100 2020: Women are gaining ground in the profession, but not BAME architects" What if you're a woman and BAME? How does that effect the results? Tell people. Unfortunately, you will have to breakdown to the individual groups itself (B...A...ME). Clumping groups of people in accordance to their differences into one large group is simply misleading and can be manipulated by practices.

    It has also come to my attention the uproar people have for other issues unimportant, but when it comes to diversity it is all so silent. It is very telling. Many are praising on another prospective RIBA President who again won't make radical changes making the experience between All women and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic professionals better. Just look at staff images published by practices of "equal opportunities" practices that says it all. No practice should call themselves an equal opportunities employer if they don't even have a the diverse staff to prove it. Also, don't just observe "Architects" what about the architectural assistants? It affects those looking for jobs who have to witness this daily.

    Again and again with vague stats and to be frank practices consciously do not care. Attend one meeting and will call it a day.

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  • Agree with the above and rather an unnecessarily complicated article - approximately 7% of architects were BAME in 2019 compared with 12% of the workforce as a whole (ONS estimates). Figures have changed little in the past 5 years.

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