- The American Institute of Architects has released the results of its 2015 commissioned study on diversity in the profession. One of the key findings revealed that women strongly believe there is not gender equity in architecture, but only half of men respondents believe women are not adequately represented. However, all survey respondents agreed there is a lack of people of color in the industry.
- Respondents also identified work-life balance as the main reason women are underrepresented in the industry and indicated that changes to this factor could benefit the overal industry. In addition to work-life balance, the survey found that lack of opportunity upon returning from having families, lack of role models, lower pay and lower likelihood of promotion are also keeping women away from architecture.
- The survey found that factors keeping people of color out of architecture include not being able to afford school, limited role models and less awareness of architecture as a career option.
Responding architects also said that women and people of color could be better retained in the industry with the implementation of new initiatives. Architects said they believe that developing mentorship programs, offering credentials to those who return from extended leaves of absence, providing guidelines for promotion, offering industry scholarships and getting more women into teaching are ways to draw women in.
Architects said they believe they can lure and retain more people of color by offering industry scholarships, increasing community outreach, attracting more professors of color, supporting the efforts of the National Organization of Minority Architects, developing a mentorship program and, as with women, offering scholarships and developing written standards for promotion.
Of course, the most logical way to bring new workers of any gender, ethnicity or color into the industry is to target young people. Responding architects said that in order to bring more minorities and women into the field, exposure to architecture should start in middle school.
Some experts have cited the ongoing labor shortage as a motivating factor that is getting A/E/C executives to take notice of the lack of diversity and, possibly, take steps to improve it. With retention problems exacerbating the current dearth of qualified laborers and professionals, construction companies are being forced to reexamine their policies and find ways to both recruit experienced workers and keep them.