Parlour Fights Gender Inequality in Architecture with Comprehensive Guidelines

As the fastidious debate about why women leave the architecture profession rages on, Parlour has proactively released a set of guides - which they have been working on since 2011 - "to promote more equitable working conditions within the industry."

In Australia, architecture graduates are split equally between the genders, but only 20% of registered architects are female - a statistic which resonates in other countries. In the United states, for example, women make up over 40% of architecture students, but only 23% of the profession. This disparity has proven difficult to explain because all too often women and men are lumped into uniform categories, all with the same wants and needs. Fortunately, Parlour's research team took a more comprehensive approach to the creation of their guides, understanding that "there is no one reason for women's significant under representation in architecture and no one solution." Each of the guides explained, after the break.

In total, the guides cover eleven topics. Each guide defines the issue at hand, why it matters, and what we can do - complete with additional resources and readings.

  • Pay Equity: Even though equal pay for equal work is law in many countries, gender pay gaps still exist. "This guide offers simple suggestions to assist practices in evaluating, establishing and maintaining pay equity, and to help employees seeking to achieve gender pay equity."
  • Long Hours: Despite its many negative effects, working long hours is ingrained in the architecture profession culture. "This guide challenges long-hours cultures in architecture. It examines the complex factors behind it and offers suggestions about how to manage workload and workplace culture for the benefit of all."
  • Part-Time Work: Working part-time allows many to balance their professional and personal lives, but it often losses meaning. "This guide outlines the benefits to practices and employees and offers strategies for creating and promoting meaningful part-time work."
  • Flexibility: With flexible schedules becoming more and more common, the associated unspoken costs need to be addressed. "This guide looks at some of the benefits of working flexibly in architecture and identifies strategies to help these arrangements run smoothly."
  • Recruitment: Good recruitment practices result in more satisfied, productive, and competitive employees. "This guide provides advice on fair and equitable recruitment strategies and processes for both employers and employees. It includes material for those starting out in their career and those at more senior levels."
  • Career Progression: Just because a career model works for your friend, that doesn't mean it will suit you or where you are in your life - or where you will be in ten years. "This guide looks at how careers might be considered and navigated. It offers suggestions for supporting women's professional development and career progression. This includes supporting women with 'traditional' architectural careers in private practice, and those with more complex 'flexible' careers."
  • Negotiation: To get what you want, you need to know how to ask and negotiate. "This guide outlines the importance of negotiation skills in architecture. It offers advice to employers and employees about negotiating in ways that provide a fairer playing field for women and men, and are beneficial to all parties."
  • Career Break: Career breaks are normal, but if the proper attention isn't given, they can be detrimental. "This guide assists employees and practices to collaboratively plan for and manage career breaks, particularly parental leave, and to support a successful return to work life, particularly for women."
  • Leadership: There are less women than men in leadership positions within the profession. "This guide addresses the obstacles women may face in attaining seniority, offers women tips on positioning themselves for leadership roles, provides guidance on promoting and supporting women, and outlines the role leaders in the profession can play in facilitating change."
  • Mentoring: Being able to talk to someone whose been through what you're going through can be invaluable. "This guide outlines the benefits of mentoring programs and relationships, and includes strategies for building their effectiveness."
  • Registration: As previously mentioned, more men become registered architects than women despite graduating in equal numbers. "This guide outlines the obstacles that women may face and strategies to manage them, and provides advice about supporting women who wish to register as architects."

Parlour, an online resource dedicated to the discourse of practicing architecture as a woman in Australia (formed as a result of the research project Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work, and Leadership), believes that inequity "needs to be tackled by us all" because "we all have the ability, and the obligation, to make a difference." Click here to access and download the full guides online.

About this author
Cite: Jennifer Whelan. "Parlour Fights Gender Inequality in Architecture with Comprehensive Guidelines" 13 May 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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