Government statistics on diversity in the creative industries show women and ethnic minorities continue to be underrepresented in architecture
A new report into employment within the creative industries shows that there are nearly twice as many men as women employed in architecture and only one in 10 of all employees are of Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.
The data, published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), also reveals that 97.5 per cent of employees in the architecture sector were from ‘more advantaged backgrounds’.
This year’s AJ100 survey showed that the number of female architects is at its highest ever but the DCMS’s research shows that women are still not as well represented in architecture as they are in most other creative industries.
2016 09 07 Creative gender new
According to the figures, women account for an overall 37.2 per cent of jobs in the creative industries, but only make up just over a third (34.3 per cent) of those in architecture. This statistic was lower than all other creative groups researched except for the IT, software and computer services sector (21.4 per cent).
Julia Feix, director at Feix and Merlin, said: ‘It’s not surprising. Part of it is probably because it’s not necessarily the easiest to profession to have children in, for example. Coming back on a part-time basis is very difficult and most offices wouldn’t let you do that.
She added: ‘I don’t think the problem is one of bringing architecture closer to women, because there is an interest. It’s about making it more accessible for professional women who also want to have a family.’
The report also shows that Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees are also underrepresented in architecture. BAME employees account for just 5.9 per cent of jobs in architecture – a little over half the proportion employed across all the creative industries (11.4 per cent).
Manisha Patel, a partner at PRP Architects, said: ‘When I’m around the industry I don’t come across many [ethnic minority employees]. There are more working in the housing association field but when we’re working for higher-end private developers [there are] very few women or anyone from ethnic minority backgrounds.
‘PRP does go into schools, especially in the East End with its Bengali community, to encourage people to understand that they can have access to a career in architecture, which isn’t a traditional kind of thing within a lot of ethnic minority cultures. It does come down partly to culture and perceptions of what architecture is.’
She added: ‘It’s still quite an élite profession and it’s a very small world in which to break through at any kind of higher level.’
The DCMS survey shows that architecture also favours people from better-off socio-economic backgrounds.
Architecture has the highest proportion of jobs (74.7 per cent) at degree level or above in the creative economy and just 2.5 per cent of workers in architecture are from ‘less advantaged’ socio-economic backgrounds. This proportion is lower than all other creative industries except the IT, software and computer services sector, where it is equalled.
2016 09 07 creative socio economic
Patel said: ‘There are fewer people in architecture from less privileged backgrounds, I would say I would count as one of those. I think a lot of that is about affordability. It’s a very long degree course for people to fund, especially with the fees universities charge nowadays. It’s making it easier for people who have backing from their parents to be able to do courses like these.
In general, the DCMS figures correlate with last month’s AJ100 analysis, but the AJ also found that, at the 100 largest firms in the UK, 11 per cent of employees were of Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.