Architecture is one of the largest growing industries in the real estate and infrastructure sector. Globally the architecture industry contributes around 333.14 billion USD by 2020. These numbers are no joke. The architecture industry will surely be a game-changer in the future. Like other Pharma, Medical, Engineering, Sports, and Defense sectors, women have an almost equal contribution. Even in the Tokyo Olympic Games, medals won by women were larger as compared to men.

Comparison is something we must avoid in any circumstances. Involving gender in talent-oriented fields is despising. But we can’t ignore the fact that the number and ratio of women to men are very low. And the architecture industry is no exception. If we look at the global statistics, though, the number of women taking admission in architecture school is larger than men. But leading a successful business is seen by men. Many women divert their career into Academician, teaching, software-based firms, writing, and whatnot. Of course, choices can differ from this fact. But if this industry were more welcoming for women on-site and in the technological world, the numbers would have differed.

50:50 gender ratio of architecture students but only 18% women are licensed architects whereas men 26% in numbers. Then the question arises:

Do men still dominate the architecture industry?

Sorry to give you a spoiler. If we look at the ratio and statistics, then yes, architecture is male dominant. But what are the reasons that make these numbers fluctuate? Is there any solution we can provide that can bring change? Can we bring a balance to the architecture industry? We will find answers to all these unasked questions step by step.

Here are the top reasons why the architecture industry is male dominant:

1. Gender Pay Gap

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Its global statistics show women earn 20% less than men in every sector. Architecture is no exception. Yes, some women figures earn more than men, but they are rock climbers from the start. Women are assumed to only work in the offices and assigned desk jobs most of the time. Men are preferred on-site according to the authoritative attitude. Women are assumed to be more sensitive, and people think it’s not easy to make on-the-spot decisions. 

The architecture industry needs quick confrontation. Hence, the on-site staff thinks women are hard for this task. And somewhere, women also accept such opportunities. Where there is no site exposure and only given a desk job. One of the reasons women accept such inferior treatment is that they are molded in such a manner. Where they assume they are good at a desk job and cannot handle commanding operations.

2. Less female influencers

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If someone asks you who your favorite female architect is, the only name people repeatedly mention is Zaha Hadid. This is because there are very few female influencers in the architecture sector. On the other hand, if someone asks you your favorite film star, athlete, politician, singer, or artist, there is a high possibility of hearing some female names. But in the design industry, the numbers are very less. Apart from Zaha Hadid, there are many other architects, but they are not given enough coverage. 

Influencing figures have a large impact on the mind of the youth. They can change the minds of people. And hence for young designers, especially women, we need influencers who can impact this growing industry. The motive is not to compete with men or increase female dominance. But to bring a serene balance where both are equally being valued. 

Not only females but also other genders as well. 

3. Less support system

Not everyone has a back support system. The support system here means a family who supports you for your choices. In Asian countries, letting women practice in a male-dominated field is something not everyone prefers. Risk and safety parameters are high in the architecture industry. Events, meetings, foreign trips, seminars, client meetings, and long-distance site supervision women are less preferred. Safety is a huge reason. 

Women are likely to face more challenges in late working hours as the clock hits 7 pm, the concerned feeling of being late hits harder. The battle to maintain between work and home is no joke. On one side, where the boss demands work, your family call rings on your phone. 

4. Gossip culture

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When your team talks about design and ideas in any discussion is always good because it increases your productivity. But when discussions turn out to be gossip. Then there is something serious with this thing. Yes, humans are social animals, and humans do need constant verbal communication to change ideas. But in working spaces where people gossip about someone’s choices, dressing, caste, color, and religion. And here, men are likely to be less in number because women are observed to have and accept stereotypical attributes.

Yes, surprisingly, women talk about other women. Here is a famous quote, “a woman is another woman’s enemy.” The author was not wrong about this. This fact is derived from the confessions from architects on Quora, Facebook, and the writing domain. The negative mindset and stereotypes ruin the progress of any industry.

5. Networking

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As they say, your network is your net worth. But there is a sad reality about this. Women have slight difficulty in contacting people. It’s a risk to talk about business with people. Every two in fifteen women faced harassment while communicating with clients and professional practitioners. Women in the architecture industry hesitate while networking with other people. There are many confessions about such practices on Linkedin. When you approach someone for networking, apart from professional questions, some people start talking about personal stuff.

It’s okay to talk in a friendlier attitude but invading privacy with unprofessional topics ruins networking culture for women.

6. Personal and professional life imbalance

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How many male architects have you seen struggling to balance between personal and professional life? Likely very less. Single parent, a person with huge family responsibility, bachelor can be exceptional in this case. But women have to battle between both like a sandwich. In Asian countries, women have to maintain a subtle balance between both. In the architecture industry, it isn’t easy to be focused on both. Because architecture demands full concentration. Either site job or desk job both need equal focus. 

But when you have to balance between home and work, what do you think is that easy? Obviously no. Women have household responsibilities. Even in the progressive society, only 20 % of the family have a gender-neutral lifestyle.

7. Male  preference

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Men are preferred at on-site jobs. And on-site jobs are the key role of an architect. At the same time, women are given less privilege. It is not the competence factor but acceptance. Acceptance about leadership, authority, successful execution of projects. A commanding attitude is something women lack. Not everyone, but yes, almost a large number of females. Cannot blame it because women have been molded in that manner only. To be submissive, not commanding.

The architecture industry is male-dominated. There is no denial. But to bring a change in this system, men have to take charge along with female architects where they can promote talent irrespective of gender. People shall appreciate such an attitude. And yes, the architecture industry will surprise you with leaders who promote females at a large scale for their caliber.

8. Stereotype  mindsets

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Stereotypes are everywhere. The architecture industry is no exception. Here mindset plays a vital role. If we need an inclusive industry, we need a progressive mindset. Not taking a stand, valuing women in the sector, their struggle, sacrifices. So is understanding men and their sacrifices. 

Where there is a part male dominates, there is also a side where men are being judged. We have to understand that gender must not be a parameter in any talent allied fields. Women who wish to command in the on-site job must be supported. And men who wish to explore the internal field must be given the same attitude.

It’s not a competition between genders, but companionship is what is expected. Equal opportunities, equal pay, equal respect, equal support, everything equal.

Nothing less, nothing more. Everything equal.

Not only for women but also for men, trans, and every other gender.

Hence gender-neutral industry.


Ar. Ritu Gosavi is a published co-author of the two anthology " A poet's Pulse" and "Slice of life" , graduated from College of Architecture Nasik .A brilliant content writer since 2019 bringing light on social and patriarchal norms through her writing page called "Ruminant". An architect, author, and audacious , a classical and japanese literature lover.

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