AIA Gender Equity Policy announced

The Australian Institute of Architects establishes a national Gender Equity Policy for the profession.

Institute president Paul Berkemeier.

Institute president Paul Berkemeier.

A major breakthrough for gender equity in the profession of architecture has been made with the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Council approving the organization’s first Gender Equity Policy. Institute president and gender equity advocate Paul Berkemeier announced the decision on Thursday 5 December 2013.

“The disparity between male and female representation within the profession has been well documented and a growing concern not only for the Institute as the industry’s representative body but also for members of both genders,” said Berkemeier.

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“With this in mind, the Institute’s new Gender Equity Policy will provide the foundation for improving operations within the Institute through our governance, programs and services, employment and leadership. The policy will assist our members and the profession more broadly in employing gender equitable practices in their day-to-day operations.”

The policy establishes ten best practice principles designed to maximize fair and equitable access to opportunities and participation for women within the architecture profession.

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The development of the policy follows the Institute’s involvement since 2011 with the Australian Research Council funded Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership project, which is led by a large collaborative team of eight scholars and five industry partners.

Studies conducted as part of this project have provided qualitative evidence confirming that the participation rate of women in the profession is disproportionately low compared to the number of women graduates in architecture highlighting the specific need to encourage and provide guidelines for the industry to adopt a comprehensive and ethical approach to establishing gender equality across the field.

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Immediate Past President and chair of the Institute’s Gender Equity working group Shelley Penn noted that: “Despite similar numbers of female and male graduates for the past three decades, women are less likely to register as architects after graduation (only about 20 per cent of registered architects are women). We only rarely become directors of practices and are also less likely to participate in the profession more widely; for example, by joining the Institute, where less than 30 per cent of members are women.

“As careers progress, the barriers for women increase, as evidenced by lower numbers in senior positions and higher attrition rates and the need for part-time or flexible work hours when juggling career and parenthood affects women most heavily. This policy will go a long way in readdressing these imbalances.”

In addition to approving the policy, the National Council endorsed the establishment of a National Committee on Gender Equity, responsible for guiding the policy’s implementation and making recommendations on additional actions, initiatives and programs and further drive gender equality within the architecture profession.

Download the Institute’s Gender Equity Policy here.

Read Shelley Penn’s from February 2013 article on the gender salary gap in response to the 2012 Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) GradStats report.

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