Is sexism on the rise in architecture?

The fourth annual AJ Women in Architecture Survey has highlighted some disappointing results about discrimination in the sector. It would seem that sexual discrimination is on the rise, with three-quarters of female architects saying that they had suffered sexism at some point in their careers. Surprisingly, 62 per cent of women architects say that they have experienced discrimination while in practice, and 56 per cent said they suffered discrimination at meetings with contractors. Contrary to expectations, this was worse than on site, where 50 per cent said they had experienced sexism. The survey defines discrimination as anything from inappropriate comments to being treated differently because of gender. Unfortunately, the survey highlighted that discrimination is occurring frequently, with almost 30 per cent of female architects witnessing sexual discrimination on a monthly or quarterly basis, and 9 per cent weekly or daily. This year the number of female architects who say they have been bullied has risen to 40 per cent, with almost 70 per cent of those saying it had occurred in the office. The survey also revealed that 32 per cent of males had experienced bullying and 60 per cent said it had occurred in the office. Again, unexpectedly, of architects who had experienced bullying, more men reported it happening in meetings with contractors or on site – 57 per cent, as compared with 40 per cent of women. This is despite less than a quarter of women architects feeling the industry has yet to accept the authority of the female architect, and many citing issues with contractors in their reasons why. There are also still some disparities in pay. At director level, women’s pay is wide ranging: most earn £33-36,000. However, 6 per cent of female directors are paid £16-20,000 and 12 per cent earn more than £100,000. This is significantly different from the earnings of male directors, where salaries are clustered around the top end of the pay scale. One third earn more than £75,000, compared with just 7 per cent of female directors. However, the survey also revealed some good news – salaries for both male and female architects are on the rise and the gender pay gap for the average architect is slowly decreasing.

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