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Headline

Record number of women apply for architecture-related degrees

Comment

in my own MArch units, young women have often been the most talented and creative students. Why many women are not running major practices or making a more significant contribution to the profession is, consequently, disturbing. Architecture has always been driven by an exhausting and unnecessary devotion to work. This starts at university where you are given credit for the amount of time you are prepared to put in above all else. In practice, this culture continues and it is expected that you work long hours, much of which are unpaid. It may be that young women have other priorities and there is a woeful lack of financial support and adequate childcare provision, particularly for women who want to break this burden of expectation and have children. That a very low percentage of women become head of school or take up senior positions is also disturbing. I asked one of my students in Liverpool a very talented young woman why there seems to be a limited number of women leading practices and universities, she wrote this: "Architecture is 'sold' as a 7 year course and aged 18, this is long but maybe not too long to deter us, thinking it will all be done age 25. Then we get into the course, which has its own issues with a culture of long hours and mentally draining, and realise we most probably will not be fully qualified Architects anytime soon. For my male colleagues this is maybe not so worrying, but for myself and female friends it is a worry that our career choice pushes back other considerations, notably having children. The lack of flexibility in the structure of qualifying and a general lack of flexibility in practice until you are in a more senior role, compounded by the fact that many remain a Part 1 in practice for 2 years and a Part 2 in practice for around 3 means we are not qualifying until our late 20s and not reaching a place in our career to consider a family until later. Data shows women in architecture are leaving it later than the national average to have children, 32 compared to the national average of 28. I am sure wanting to be secure in your position in practice is a key factor for this later age - I cannot think of any cases of Part IIs having children and staying on in practice. A factor mentioned in the Ethel Day article cites gender discrimination. I have not experienced this myself particularly, in my Part I there were a couple characters in the office that I would say were very close to the line, generally the older male architects, but I am glad to say this was never a probably throughout university. Neither have I heard stories from friends at Liverpool. I would note that there is sometimes a tendency for tutors to assume female students will be more sensitive, or a joke made in a crit to that fact."

Posted date

9 February, 2019

Posted time

10:12 am

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