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Number of women architects working in Britain’s top 100 firms on the rise

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The number of female architects working in the UK’s top 100 practices has made a surprise leap, with almost 100 more ARB-registered women architects now on the payroll than last year

The proportion of women professionals employed by AJ100 practices has increased from 25 per cent in 2013 to 28 per cent in 2014 – a 3 per cent rise.

The hike is even more marked among the top 10 firms. Over the past 12 months, the average ratio of women to men in the top 10 has risen from 22.7 per cent to 27.5 per cent – an increase of almost 5 per cent.

Leading the way in the rankings is healthcare specialist NBBJ, which says that 60 per cent of its architect workforce are women.

Female staff working in the UK office of the US-headquartered firm also hold numerous senior positions: women make up 40 per cent of its leaders and five out of 10 of NBBJ’s senior associates.

Principal and mother-of-five Nicola Hewes said the practice was responsive to the demands of working parents and strived to enable its entire staff to achieve a work/life balance through flexible working hours.

‘Strength builds on strength – female applicants applying to the London studio can immediately see that we have a balance here, and this attracts them.’

The company, which has recently moved to Shoreditch, is one of just three practices in the AJ100 where women architects outnumber men – the other two are Darling Associates (56 per cent) and Paul Davis + Partners (51 per cent). Both practices – as well as Levitt Bernstein Associates, which is seventh in the list – are partners in the AJ’s Women in Architecture programme. Darling director Liz Moran said the high number of female architects was down to loyalty.

She said: ‘Six years ago we hired around eight architects who were best qualified for the job, who happened to be women, and most of them have stayed.’ Moran added that offering staff maximum maternity leave, flexible working hours and childcare vouchers had nurtured this loyalty. The full AJ100 results are revealed in next week’s issue.

AJ100 firms with highest ratio of female to male architects

  1. NBBJ 60%
  2. Darling Associates 56%
  3. Paul Davis + Partners 51%
  4. Penoyre & Prasad 45%
  5. Nicholas Hare Architects 44%
  6. Hawkins\Brown 42%
  7. Levitt Bernstein Associates 42%
  8. Jestico + Whiles 42%
  9. ADP 41%
  10. Broadway Malyan 40%
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