Equality is probably the most misunderstood and misused word in all of the dictionaries. The term stands for the state of being equal especially in status, rights, and opportunities. In our context, we are striving to understand achieving gender equality in Architecture.
A question arises, in today’s modern world, one in which we are providing maximum equality to both men and women, where is the inequality?
A question that is worthy of an answer, inequality seems to be existing even in the top folds of high-end architecture firms like Fosters and Partners. In 2018, the company released an annual report mentioning the gender pay gap.
It was founded that men are paid more in the top tiers than women, though this was attributed to men’s long service and the fact that 80% of the top positions are occupied by men. Even today, a hundred and fifty years after the worldwide anti-suffragism movement, women in top positions are still a rarity.
The gender pay gap is just one among the many inequalities, there are others like lack of opportunities where people don’t even end up on the pay list. That is the sad reality of today’s world and hence we require a guide to help us achieve idealism, that is equality in the field of architecture.
So here we go steps to achieving equality in architecture:
- Review your recruitment process, make sure that it is not a partial system, and allows opportunities to all equal men, women, and disabled based on their skill set and not race or community, or religion. This is a very important step to ensure equality in the firm as this brings in a diverse populous. This also opens the door for unique ideologies that people bring in from their backgrounds and also makes for a fun work environment.
- Try preventing pay gaps. Of course, it is a more deep-rooted issue and doesn’t solve itself. The best thing to do is to pay all equally based on the amount of work they do and over a period of time, we might find ourselves in an equal pay environment.
- Equal opportunities. It is important to provide access to opportunities big and small to all. This is the only way to ensure growth for all and if everyone grows equally then we are creating an environment that is inequality-free. We are also trying to bridge the pay gap through this step. Equal opportunities, equal growth, and equal pay!
These are a few guidelines that we can follow to help ensure equality in our field. A recent report states that only 18% of architects in the US are women, which sets our field behind medicine and law. This is alarming and requires an extra effort to make equality possible.
Another good guideline that can be used is to identify the set of people who are less in number in the firm and open out the opportunities to them that would kind of help us set an equilibrium within the firm. As for employees, the most important thing to do would be to make everyone feel welcome and provide them with equal chances to prove themselves worthy of the job or the upcoming promotion or even a bonus. Honestly, that would be an ideal work environment.
While we are talking about the field in general and not just practicing firms, we could try getting people from all walks of life majoring in architecture, which is after all the beginning point of all our journeys. This, like every other thing, women are the least applicants. So, we can try and provide increments to motivate them to major in our field. There is also a category of women who are architects but don’t find themselves practicing, due to various reasons like pregnancies, family, etc. We could also help them out by providing a daycare center at the firm and increased maternity holidays. For students, the best way to help them out would be to create awareness in them about architecture and how cool it is to work in the field, especially one that doesn’t have anything routine about it.
So these I believe will help make a change in the system. I don’t believe in changing the world as one person but I do believe in the fact that the little change that I do can cause others to think a bit differently, and hence change the world! It is important for the world to be seen with the same eyes, treated as equals. We are human beings and if we don’t look out for each other, who will?