Cassandra Huntington, Bronze Medal Nominee (2016)

Reflection on “Equity”

Women in Architecture

Architecture has historically been a male-dominated industry, making it harder for women to rise into positions of leadership. There are less women in architecture programs, leading to even less women getting licensed. In addition to this, there is evidence of pay gaps between men and women in the architecture profession. AIA Statistics show that only 16% of AIA memberships are women and 17% of principals and partners in AIA member-owned firms are female. Other demanding professions such as law, medicine, and accounting outnumber the percentage of women represented in their fields compared to the architecture profession.

One of the major contributors causing these issues revolves around women choosing to leave for a period of time to have and care for children. Many women feel that by pursuing a family they are giving up their careers. Numerous firms claim to be family friendly and have a good work-life balance, but how much of this is actually true? Many women are finding it very hard to transition back into the workplace after maternity leave. The architectural community does not seem to value “the mother.” However, similar to the importance of ethnic diversity in architecture, gender diversity is also essential to a well-rounded architecture firm. Women bring different perspectives and experiences to the table and motherhood plays a part in this. Mothers should not be undervalued, and they should be welcomed back to work in order to contribute their strengths to the industry—having children is not a sign of weakness.

Ethnic Diversity in Architecture

AIA studies show that minorities represent a mere 13% of licensed AIA Architect members. Ethnic diversity in the architecture community will improve architecture firms in at least four ways: creativity and innovation, well-rounded teams, improved customer service, and extended global markets. People of different backgrounds bring different perspectives and experiences to the table, which leads to innovation, progress, and new possibilities—all things that are essential to a successful, creative environment. A lack of diversity stunts novelty, something that should be highly valued in the architectural community. Not only does diversity help with creativity, but it also builds better, well-rounded teams—another helpful ingredient in architecture. Buildings are not created by one person, but a team of people all putting their strengths together to design something functional, economical, ecological, and beautiful. Ethnic diversity also helps companies to be more successful in reaching global markets and providing better customer service. This diversity makes it easier for companies to branch out to a widespread clientele. It is positive if there are people in the firm that are relatable to the client, making them feel more comfortable with someone of a similar background. Denise Scott Brown, senior partner at Venturi Scott Brown and Associates, believes when “diverse people [are] joined in a shared endeavor, their diversity will increase the scope of our work and add further layers of meaning, involvement, artistry—and fun—to our lives.”

 

Exhibits of Coursework (click to expand)

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