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Women architects 'still face glass ceiling'

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Nearly three-quarters of all women architects believe their careers could be checked by a glass ceiling, according to a new survey.

The study, carried out for consultant Atkins, also shows that almost half of female architects have experienced gender inequalities in the workplace.

The poll, which quizzed 3,300 men and women across a range of disciplines, including architecture, found that 19.5 per cent of female architects claim a glass ceiling 'definitely exists' and 53 per cent believe it is 'potentially there'. It also found that 11 per cent of women architects 'frequently' experience inequalities, while a further 34 per cent experience them 'occasionally'.

Pippa Nissen, director of London-based Nissen Adams Architects, was not surprised by the findings.

'It is something I am very aware of,' said Nissen.

'In earlier architectural practices I felt that I wasn't getting the right kind of promotion. It is one of those things. I have my own practice now so it is different, but I won't allow it in the office,' she added.

Nissen employs eight women in a 14-strong workforce. By contrast, of the 7,108 architects employed by AJ100 practices, only 1,646 are women - just 23 per cent.

The study, conducted by market-research organisation Tickbox.net, found that one-third of women are put off a career in the construction sector because they believe it is dominated by men. This figure rose to 50 per cent among recent graduates.

However, despite the negative feedback from female architects, the research revealed that around 60 per cent of respondents believe that buildings designed by women 'would be more user-friendly, practical and better places to live and work.'

Atkins is the headline sponsor of the Inspire Awards, which recognise the achievements of women in architecture, engineering and construction. The winners of the awards will be unveiled at a celebration lunch in London's Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel tomorrow (6 July) and the results will be published in a supplement with next week's AJ.

by Ruth Slavid

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