The building industry at large has always been male-dominated. Many sectors, including construction and engineering are still stereotypically seen as highly masculine workplaces, with male interest, employment and leadership far outweighing that of their female counterparts.
According to Dr. Naomi Stead of the University of Queensland,Australia’s architecture industry also shows this same gender representation equality.
A new website has been launched to foster discussion around the under-representation of women in architecture.
“The architecture profession likes to think of itself as a progressive, equitable meritocracy, but unfortunately that’s just not the case,” says Stead. “While we don’t believe that explicit prejudice or discrimination is a significant problem in the profession in Australia, we do know that there is implicit bias, a lack of pay equity, and that women as a group are not remaining in the profession, and progressing to leadership positions.”
In response to this reality, Stead co-created ‘Parlour: Women, Equity, Architecture’, an online forum edited by Justin Clark of the University of Melbourne. The site features research, informed opinions and support for women in architecture.
The site aims to address a wide range of issues that affect women architects both nationally and internationally, including work/life balance and flexible conditions.
Importantly, rather than simply condemning current conditions, the site aims to celebrate female architects, empowering them to create ‘real social change’ according to Stead.
“We’ve already demonstrated that there is a problem, and Parlour will allow us to connect with the entire architectural profession and start a conversation about how we want to work, and how this can be better and more equitable for both women and men in architecture,” she says.
The overall goal will be to expand opportunities for women in the architecture realm, offer support and drive for greater equality between the sexes; not to drive a wedge between female and male architects, but to bridge the gap in terms of opportunity and remuneration.
These same basic principles are shared by Zaha Hadid, arguably the world’s most famous modern female architect. Hadid shared her views on women in the industry upon recently receiving the Jane Drew Prize for her contribution to women in architecture.
“Getting to where I am is hard. But it is do-able,” she said. “Women architects do need some support from others who have made that journey. And they also have to help themselves.”