As architects we are called on to provide design solutions to social and economic issues that exist in our communities. These issues mandate that we are able to understand and reflect the views of the people we represent. To that end, diversity is vital to architecture, its relevance and the solutions it provides our diverse communities.
According to NCARB, 42 percent of new NCARB Record holders are women, compared to 18 percent of Certificate Holders. While women remain underrepresented among practitioners, they now represent at least a third of licensure candidates at each stage along the path to licensure.
On the surface, it seems our profession is improving. However, we need to dig a bit deeper to see the full story. In 2014, AIA San Francisco’s Equity by Design Committee released a full report, and the statistics were eye-opening. While 42% of college graduates from programs accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board are women, only 28% of architectural staff in firms, 26% of licensed architects and 17% of partners are women. The truth is we are enrolling more women than ever in college, however far too many are leaving the profession.
Last year at Design Day, AIA NJ asked three women at different stages of their career to talk about the state of women in the profession. Karen Nichols, FAIA a Partner at Michael Graves; Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, a sole practitioner and Jaclyn Gazelle, an architectural intern. Each of them had advice for how to climb the ladder, while still having a work-life balance. They stressed the necessity for firms to create a work culture that was flexible and rewarding for both the employee and the employer. Finally, the importance of mentorship both internal and external to a firm and the role AIA can provide in mentoring our next generation of leaders.
Kim Vierheilig, AIA
Diversity – Women in Architecture Chairperson
Second Vice President
AIA New Jersey