Survey Reveals Increasing Sexism in Architecture Industry 1

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
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The Architect’s Journal’s (AJ) Women in Architecture Survey results are in and they show women in the industry face growing issues with gender inequality.

The survey, based solely on the UK architecture profession, reveals that discrimination and bullying are on the rise.

A total of 1,104 respondents filled out the survey, 20 per cent of whom where men.

The survey reports that three quarters of women architects had suffered discrimination – a rise from two thirds in 2014 – while more than 40 per cent of female architects said they had been bullied.

In terms of discrimination, the disappointing figures have only demonstrated an increase over the years – 14 points since the survey’s initial launch in 2011.

Discrimination occurred both off and on-site where:

  • 62 per cent of female architects said they had been discriminated against while in practice
  • 56 per cent said they had suffered discrimination at meetings with contractors
  • While on site, 50 per cent had suffered discrimination

Furthermore, the survey identified that 30 per cent of female architects face sexual discrimination on a monthly or quarterly basis, and nine per cent weekly or daily. In this survey, discrimination is defined as anything from inappropriate comments to being treated differently because of gender.

Bullying was also high, particularly on site, with almost 70 per cent of female architects bullied saying it occurred while in practice. Participants described bullying as feeling forced to work long hours, feeling forced to take on additional work and other bullying behaviour primarily from from senior staff members.

Men weren’t immune to bullying, with almost a third (32 per cent) reporting they had experienced bullying, with nearly 60 per cent of those cases taking place in the office.

As reported in AJ, RIBA president Stephen Hodder said the results are “unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated,” while architect Yasmin Shariff finds it “alarming that the already poor performance figures are getting worse and happening in practices and in our institutes.”

“Speaking from personal experience, no contractor would dare bully me but my peers would not think twice about having a stab,” Shariff said.

The survey, which is in its fourth year, works to raise the profile of women in architecture. Architects represented 56 per cent of survey respondents while the remaining participants were clients, consultants, academics, engineering industry members, PR staff and developers.

AJ attributed the rise in reports of bullying and sexism to a greater awareness of the issues and the opportunity for participants to contribute anonymously to the survey. They also recognised that women in the profession are becoming more willing to speak out about their experiences and perception in the industry.

However, it’s not all bad news. Salaries for both genders are on the rise, with both men and female architects enjoying increased pay packets.

“The number of UK architects working full time who are earning £33-60,000 a year has increased from 49 per cent last year to 60 per cent, while, encouragingly, the proportion earning less than £33,000 has dropped by nine points to 30 per cent,” the survey revealed.

Additionally, women in senior positions are earning more where at director level, women’s pay is wide ranging, with most earning £33,000 to 36,000. Six per cent of female directors were paid between £16,000 and 20,000 while 12 per cent earned more than £100,000.

Over 75 per cent of men earned more than £75,000 compared with just seven per cent of female directors – a disparity of 26 points.

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  1. Steve Johnson

    This is a blight on the sector and shows just how far the industry still has to go in this regard.

    One would think professional firms would have the systems and procedures in place to stop this kind of rubbish from happening. Obviously, this is not the case.