The United States of America, a country with the world’s most powerful economy and military, a country with scientific prowess, and a country that excels in many other areas, has had a loophole for the past 13 decades: Equality for all. The architectural community, in one of its niches, can demonstrate a male-dominated society, with only 18 percent of licensed practitioners being women. “Three of the top 100 architecture companies in the world are led by women, and only two have management teams that are more than half female,” according to Dezeen. What about the other countries if the United States, which is such a powerful country, fails? Why is there misogyny in a field that is so pure, creative, and collaborative?

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet1
Men vs Women_©dezeen
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet2
Womens as graduates and professionals_©ACSA
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet3
Womens as graduates and professionals_©ACSA

A lady named Mary Louisa had the distinction as the first woman in North America to receive an architectural degree in 130 years. However, until 1972, when Title IX  passed and federally financed education programs were made available to all, gender discrimination was still prevalent. Bosses and other authorities are still wondering if they (females) will be able to exercise on the construction site. Will they stay together once they get married? And they are paid a pittance in comparison to their male counterparts. In terms of inclusion, recognition, and representation, the architectural profession in the United States has not been able to provide equal access to women. Dara Huang explained, “It’s not that those ladies are less capable.” “It’s a cultural belief that women and mothers are ineffective employees who aren’t as committed or strong as males. This further marginalizes women in the workplace.”

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet4
An architectural office without females_©archinet.com
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet5
Pay difference for same position and different gender_©The Architectural review

It is 2022, the year where the USA is rising fast towards better technology but plummets in the unequal juxtaposition between the two genders. Some of the surveys with women facing areas of sexism in the architecture industry includes:-

  1. Sexual Harassment
  2. Bullying
  3. Humiliating and offensive environment
  4. Sexual Discrimination
  5. Maternal Wall bias
  6. Prove-it again bias
  7. Tug of War bias
  8. Tightrope bias
  9. Racial Stereotyping and the list continues.
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet6
Different areas where women face issues_©The Architectural review
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet7
Different areas where women face issues_©The Architectural review

“Females account for 30-35% of architects in the United States, while males account for the rest.”

According to the American Community Survey’s 2015 spectrum data, architects in the United States of America are more likely to be men than women.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet8
Male and female occupation in 2015_©Archdaily

“60% of women believe the building industry still has not accepted them totally due to the current system.”

As the need for professionals grows, employees will be required to work more overtime, putting female architects at a disadvantage in the sector when compared to male architects.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet9
Fully acceptance of female architect in industry and Training in architecture equitable for women or not_©The Architectural review

“83 percent of women believe that having a kid or arriving at work puts them at a disadvantage.”

Because architectural training is a lengthy process, widely assumed that most women must wait until their 30s to have their first child, or the time it takes to settle into the profession will be longer if done earlier. Returning to work in the United States after pregnancy results in a reduction in options and resources.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet10
Fully acceptance of female architect in industry and Training in architecture equitable for women or not_©The Architectural review

“75 percent of female architects face sexual discrimination in job.”

Approximately half of women and one-third of men believed in sexual discrimination, such as creating a firm’s senior female architect like a child and expecting her to flirt with clients.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet11
Frequency of witnessing sexual discrimination_©The Architectural review

“20% less amount is paid to full-time female architects as compared to males.”

According to the findings of a survey of males and females conducted in the United States, 30% of women believe that men get paid more in today’s world.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet12
Shared responsibility for dependents_©The Architectural review

“After 100 years, a female architect received a big honor comparable to a male architect.”

While male-dominated honors such as the ACSA Distinguished Professor, Pritzker Prize, AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion, and AIA Gold Medal launched in the 1900s, it took a female 107 years to win one. The numbers may have changed, but the past ain’t forgotten.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet13
Men vs Women in Architecture’s highest honours_©ACSA
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet14
Female architects navigating the pipeline through the profession_©ACSA

Thank you, ladies!

“50-50% split in the architecture field in future, for both males and females.”

The 65-year employment timeline revealed a shift from women being unemployed to equalizing in the Architectural profession in the future. Furthermore, the ratio of male to female architects in the United States has steadily increased to a 1:3 ratio.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet15
Employment over time_©Archdaily
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet16
Male and Female occupation proportions_©Archdaily
Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet17
Licensure ratio of male to female architects_©ACSA

Those who are willing to confront the pain and navigate for the betterment of others shift the wind’s direction. Female architects, meanwhile, play a critical role in broadening the concept of an impartial society. The gratitude and applause are not only for American female architects like Maya Lin, Gisue Hariri, and Fauzia Khanani but also for international female architects like Pritzker laureate Zaha Hadid and others who have given female architects a ray of hope.

Demographics of Architectural profession in USA- Exposing the sexism in architectural community - Sheet18
Maya Lin receiving award from Barack Obama_©Archinet.com

The problem of sexism in the architectural community in the United States is difficult to solve but can be improved by raising awareness, changing public attitudes, and defining acceptable and unacceptable conduct. The gradual and steady improvement for equal opportunity for everyone begins with:-

  1. Publishing and undertaking pay audits with no difference in salaries.
  2. Working with other women architects.
  3. Ways for accommodating raising a child and career progression; by reducing the number of working hours.
  4. Equal treatment and opportunity.
  5. Flexibilities by providing support in this profession.
  6. Better public(clients) attitudes toward them.
  7. Using tools to address major business problems: Metrics to establish baselines and measure progress, and evidence-based strategies to achieve company goals.

In a country like the United States, there is a need to shift the demographics of the architectural profession. It is necessary for today’s youth to upgrade female equality or domination from 1/11 zones to 11/11 zones.

Male dominance over female architects in the USA_©ACSA

Citations:

  1. Tether, B., Tether, B., Tether, B., Lemmey, H., Messner, M., Vidler, A., Maki, F. and Beaumont, M., n.d. How architecture cheats women: results of the 2017 Women in Architecture survey revealed – Architectural Review. [online] Architectural Review. Available at: <https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/how-architecture-cheats-women-results-of-the-2017-women-in-architecture-survey-revealed> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  2. Los Angeles Times. n.d. Op-Ed: Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated?. [online] Available at: <https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  3. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.dezeen.com/2017/11/16/survey-leading-architecture-firms-reveals-shocking-lack-gender-diversity-senior-levels/> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  4. Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. n.d. Where Are the Women? Measuring Progress on Gender in Architecture – Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. [online] Available at: <https://www.acsa-arch.org/resource/where-are-the-women-measuring-progress-on-gender-in-architecture-2/> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  5. ArchDaily. n.d. In A Male Dominated Field, Women Make Up Only 30% of Architects in USA. [online] Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/880865/in-a-male-dominated-field-women-make-up-only-30-percent-of-architects-in-usa> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  6. Yau, N., n.d. Most Female and Male Occupations Since 1950. [online] FlowingData. Available at: <https://flowingdata.com/2017/09/11/most-female-and-male-occupations-since-1950/?utm_medium=website&utm_source=archdaily.com> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  7. Blahut, C., n.d. Voices from Women in Architecture on ‘A Day Without A Woman’. [online] Architect. Available at: <https://www.architectmagazine.com/practice/voices-from-women-in-architecture-on-a-day-without-a-woman_o> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  8. Worklifelaw.org. n.d. [online] Available at: <https://worklifelaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/AIA_An_Investigation_Into_Bias_Study.pdf> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
  9. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. n.d. The Space between the Studs: Feminism and Architecture | Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society: Vol 29, No 1. [online] Available at: <https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/375675> [Accessed 24 April 2022].
Author

Anmol Billa is an architect by profession, but he is also a student with a thirst for knowledge. He portrays architecture as a synthesis of art and technology, with a primary focus on the needs of the community. He enjoys upgrading himself regularly by carefully analyzing numerous parameters ranging from context to culture, origins to contemporary life, and accessibility to sustainability. "If my design fails to bring betterment and connectedness to society, I fail," he says.

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