This is Not the End- It’s Merely the Beginning


Women in Architecture

Our discussions over the last weeks, have revealed that there are in fact struggles and challenges for women in architecture. Not to say that this is a profession out of reach and “out of touch” for women, because as interviews with local female architects have highlighted, many feel strongly about their job position and the people whom they work with. Nevertheless, if we confront the problems within the industry and address them, it will encourage more young women to pursue a career in this field and for the women already in the industry, or returning to the industry it will eliminate any feelings or inequality and inadequacy.

Gender roles should not exist within the architectural industry. ‘There should be no reason for “girls to do interiors and boys to do technical”.[1] As an architect, male or female, you have the right to “embrace a job if you believe that you are suited to it, or challenge it, if you believe that you have denied the opportunity “[2].“Taking on a job “because you’re a woman’”, may initially sound promising, but it can be a reason to lose a job later.[3] The reasoning behind being cautious of statements like this is because assumptions are made towards women- “you’ll be good at kitchens (but don’t know about a fire station), you’ll listen (but won’t question) or you’ll be sensitive (but not authoritative)”.[4] It’s as simple as using gender neutral position descriptions to ‘avoid implying gender preferences in job roles — like filing lady or tradesman’ .[5] Workplaces need to leave their own personal ‘expectations and values’ at the door are not lean on them to influence many professional decisions made relating to the workplace. Things like the amount of time it is believe mothers should spend at work compared to being at home with their young children’ [6] varies depending on the individual, and should not be “set in stone” as a “one size should fit all.”

Firms need to have confidence in the effectiveness of a part-time working system, perhaps a trial implementation and a final ‘end of date review’.[7] It is noted there are benefits of having part time workers as such employees work more productively and waste less time.[8] Their time in the office is not a reflection of their output potential. Flexibility is essential, for example someone on maternity leave may be willing to ‘do QA reviews from home’. Hence, the office should be up to date with technology allowing this to be possible’.[9]

‘Gender Equity Policy’ [10] exists to create guidelines, insuring all basic workplace needs and rights are met, with regard to equitable pay. However, in terms of issues such as workplace bulling and sexual harassment, although covered by the principles in the document, it’s more a question of common sense — respect your peers in your workplace.

“Finally, what do women bring to the profession? What any good architect brings – empathy, insight, anticipation of people’s needs, flexibility, spatial intelligence, poetics to daily life, a collaborative spirit and capacity to improvise, respect for people and place.”
-Kerstin thompson

Local architects are supportive of young women selecting the architectural industry as their course of study. ‘Do it. It is a fantastic career and you can achieve wonderful things within the industry.’[11] Hopefully, this encouragement will secure more female architects within the workforce, with more female architectural role models for students to aspire to. It creates a continuous cycle in the right direction for the architectural industry to be more gender inclusive. ‘Gender should not be a barrier to the the creation of beautiful, functional architecture and with the right attitude and staying true to your personal values, you will achieve great things. I love my career as an architect and the opportunities I have been afforded with the clients I have.’ [12]



  1.  Kerstin Thompson. “10 Lessons.” Parlour, March 14, 2014. Accessed May 1, 2018.
  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. ibid
  5. Neph Wake. “Employers, the Law and the Dreaded Pay Gap.” Parlour, February 21, 2013. Accessed:
  6. ibid
  7. Misty Waters. “Part-Time Architects – Top Tips for Employers.” Parlour, September 25, 2013. Accessed:
  8. ibid
  9. ibid
  10. Gender Equity Policy, (Australian Institute of Architects, 2013) 2.
  11. Dani Martin (architect, EIW architects), in discussion with the author, October 2017.
  12. ibid