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Australian Institute of Architects cracks down on gender inequality

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Australian practices are to be taught about the impact of gender stereotyping in a bid to get more women into the profession

The Australian Institute of Architects this week launched its first gender equity policy, which includes 10 measures the body will take to promote equality.

Just one in five architects registered in the country are women – despite a broadly equal split of men and women graduating in architecture over the past 30 years.

Educating about the effects of gender stereotyping at work is one of the 10 measures pledged by the institute.

Its policy says: ‘Recognising that many contemporary workplaces retain vestiges of systems, processes and cultures that evolved when workplaces were primarily populated by men, the institute will inform and educate members about the often invisible barriers to equality that result.’

Other measures include communicating the value of gender-balanced leadership; supporting flexible career pathways; and developing cross-gender mentorships.

Institute president Paul Berkemeier said: ‘The disparity between male and female representation within the profession has been well documented and a growing concern not only for the institute but also for members of both genders.’

Chair of the institute’s gender equity working group Shelley Penn – a former president of the institute – added: ‘As careers progress, the barriers for women increase, as evidenced by lower numbers in senior positions and higher attrition rates.

‘The need for part time or flexible work hours when juggling career and parenthood affects women most heavily. This policy will go a long way in readdressing these imbalances.’

The institute has set up a national committee on gender equity, which will be responsible for ensuring and guiding the implementation of the policy.

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