The content of this platform is inspired by the five specific career pinch points identified by Equity by Design (EqxD, a Committee of AIA San Francisco) as the main reasons driving women out of the architectural profession.
In an effort to investigate and understand the growing trend of women opting out, "The Missing 32% Project" took shape in 2013 and asked the question: if only 18% of the architecture profession is practicing women, where are the other 32% that graduate from accredited architectural programs?
After surveying more than twenty-three hundred male and female respondents internationally, it was found that issues such as the ongoing pay gap between men and women, the long hours and low compensation, the challenges in pursuing licensure or hitting the glass ceiling, were all valid contributors to the lack women in practice. Among all, maternity seems to sit at the top of the list.
A 2014 Architects Journal survey found that 88 % of women consider that having children puts women at a disadvantage in architecture as opposed to the 62% of men who think that having kids has little impact on their career. So how can we help women stay actively engaged in the field during this critical time in their personal lives? How can we help employers see the importance and value of growing an intellectually diverse workforce while implementing more sustainable practices to improve the retention rates of women in architecture?
In November 2018, Equity by Design released the early findings of another survey, this time directed to more than fourteen thousand respondents across six continents. Not surprisingly, the data collected around the career pinch point of caregiving seems to indicate that not much has changed: only 5% of fathers report being their child's primary caregiver, as opposed to the 44% of mothers who continue to provide most of their children's care. The imbalance in caregiving responsibilities creates a significant financial gap between primary and secondary caregivers, making it increasingly challenging for mothers to thrive in a corporate environment.
In an effort to reconcile profession and parenthood, most women choose to run sole proprietorships. While this model gives mothers the autonomy and flexibility they are looking for, it's not an easy task. Managing your own office, no matter how small, spending time on the acquisition of clients, building a network, earning a place on the market, and meeting financial goals are just a few of the challenges when embarking on this journey. This can only mean that women choosing this path are in great need of support and mentorship to achieve success as sole practitioners.
Changes will not happen overnight, and while efforts to implement best practices in recruitment, retention, and promotion still being made, data indicates that this particular career crossroad deserves more attention than ever. The goal of our platform is to point at the proverbial 'elephant in the room', to increase awareness on the topic of motherhood and architecture and, hopefully, with your help, make a change.
We might be starting small, but we are thinking big.