The architecture and building construction industry is continually thriving and expanding. Since the beginning of architecture, this field has been driven by men. Women are still confronted with difficulties in the architecture profession. The female demographic outnumbers the male number in graduating schools. Even if so, the proportion of practising females is still limited. 

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Architects in action_©https://www.floornature.com/women-power-architecture-13602/

“Architecture and Design is a huge employer of men. Are there things we can do to make this an employer of women as well?” says Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist. People’s opinions must alter. Clients who refuse to recognise a woman’s skills and leadership can be unfair. From “The Fountainhead” to “Sleepless in Seattle,” the image of the builder in pop culture is predominantly masculine. This may sound insignificant, but the consequence is that a woman introducing herself to clients as an architect frequently encounters evident scepticism. The assumption is that she took a wrong turn and ended up in a profession where she didn’t fit. It really shouldn’t be this way after more than a century.

Women Architecture graphics_©https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/15/opinion/sunday/women-architects.html

Female architects leave the field in considerable numbers when faced with lower pay, fewer career opportunities, and a lack of mentors. Given that women account for more than half of the population, we must consider how we might change this number. Several issues contribute to the overall lack of gender equality in the industry, which include:

The Pay-gap between genders

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graphic images showing the pay gap between males and females_©ISTOCK

Women in the field of architecture in the United States are paid $13,000 less than men for doing the same work. When we think about money, finance, and wealth, the first thing that springs to mind is men in black suits and ties. This image has also been created for architects and designers. Women, too, must pay their debts. The same amount of effort, abilities, and knowledge are applied for the same work, but women get paid 10 to 30% less than men. 

Lack of Female mentors and Role models

In general, architecture firms need more relatable female mentors who can assist young women joining the sector in their professional development. However, in the design industry, the figures are relatively low. Apart from Zaha Hadid, there are many more architects who are underappreciated. Strong female leadership is sometimes perceived adversely in the architecture sector, as it is in other professions. Women leaders may be perceived as “bossy” or “shrill” rather than decisive or visionary. The “mini-me” impact can also happen, in which people (sometimes unintentionally) lean toward mentoring those who appear like them or share their interests. As a result, managers, who are frequently males, prefer to hire men to coach, develop, and train for advancement. 

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Women in Architecture and Design_©https://www.aiainternational.org/online-lectures-calendar/2020/11/19/women-in-architecture-series-lecture-3

Favouring more male architects 

Men dominate on-site jobs. And an architect’s primary responsibility is on-site work. Due to several circumstances, women find it difficult to work on-site. At the same time, women are afforded fewer advantages and incentives. To effect change in this system, males must take responsibility alongside female architects in assisting and upbringing them. People will respect such character. And the revolution and wind of change will flow through to make exceptional progress in this field. 

Limited support and assistance from Family systems

Midway through their careers, the number of women studying architecture decreases significantly. The causes of this phenomenon are numerous, including high stress, poor work/life balance, and a lack of flexibility. The decision to start a family has been the most critical factor. The biological burden of caring for children invariably falls on women, and it is well-acknowledged that pursuing a profession in design while raising a family is a rare sight. Even though females are well-known and respected architects, they often find it difficult to manage the responsibilities of a professional career with the constant pull of family life. However, some issues, such as household duties and chores, could be sorted out between males and females.

Stereotypical Approach in the industry 

The Cambridge dictionary defines “stereotype” as “a fixed idea people have about what someone or something is like, especially a mistaken idea.” In a profession like architecture, people have a preconceived notion of a person of authority decked up in a suit and tie. We must recognise that gender should not be a determinant in any talent-related sector. Women who want to command on-site must be supported. Men who want to study the internal domain must be treated similarly.

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Women in Architecture_©https://www.architectmagazine.com/aia-architect/aiapractice/7-ways-to-lure-the-best-of-the-best_o

Modern-day examples highlight that women can be just as good architects as men. Architecture is an industry established on universal public benefit, creativity, and design, not on the base of gender- stereotypes. Yet there is a significant imbalance behind the closed doors of offices. Overlooking all other issues, the broader gender difference is causing some significant problems and challenges. This global issue must be tackled on a local level before progressing to greater levels, creating a stirring movement worldwide. The Internet, social media, numerous organisations, and various other online platforms are attempting to root out various components of the problem and bring about change that will benefit future generations.

Online Sources: 

  1. Floornature.com. (n.d.). Women Power in Architecture | Floornature. [online] Available at: https://www.floornature.com/women-power-architecture-13602/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2022].
  2. Sangster, E. (n.d.). The Pay Gap Is Real. Don’t Let Anyone Convince You Otherwise. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elissasangster/2021/03/24/the-pay-gap-is-real-dont-let-anyone-convince-you-otherwise/?sh=4466117e7ceb [Accessed 17 Dec. 2022].
  3. RTF | Rethinking The Future. (2020). 20 Women shaping the Architecture of 21st century. [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/know-your-architects/a628-20-women-in-architecture-of-21st-century/.
  4. RTF | Rethinking the Future. (2021). Is the Architecture industry still dominated by men? [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/architectural-community/a5075-is-the-architecture-industry-still-dominated-by-men/.
  5. ArchDaily. (2017). 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.
  6. Lea, M. (n.d.). 10 Reasons Architecture’s (Still) Male-Dominated – Architecture. [online] Available at: https://architecttwocents.com/why-is-architecture-male-dominated/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2022].
  7. Journal. (2017). After Zaha: What Now for Women in Architecture? – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at: https://architizer.com/blog/practice/details/after-zaha/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2022].
  8. The Architects’ Journal. (n.d.). Women in architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/practice/women [Accessed 17 Dec. 2022].
  9. RTF | Rethinking the Future. (2022). Are women architects filling the gender gap? [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/architectural-community/a6276-are-women-architects-filling-the-gender-gap/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2022].
  10. D’Aprile, M. (n.d.). Women in Architecture Need a New Set of Role Models—Beyond the Star System. [online] Common Edge. Available at: https://commonedge.org/women-in-architecture-need-a-new-set-of-role-models-beyond-the-star-system/ [Accessed 17 Dec. 2022].
Author

An explorer at heart, Kasturi Kunte is on a journey to discover the diverse world of art, architecture, and technology. She is a young architect who believes architecture is about binding humans, nature, art and built spaces together. She is currently exploring the field of writing and researching Architecture.

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