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There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

Equity in Architecture Survey 2018 - Narrated Slide Presentation is LIVE!

In tandem with National Architecture Week, we are pleased to release the EQIA 2018 Survey Narrated Slide Presentation which includes the key findings that were presented at the 2018 Equity by Design Symposium #EQxDV:Voices, Values, Vision. The presentation is narrated by EQxD Research Chair, Annelise PItts, AIA and ACSA Research Partner, Kendall Nicholson, PH.D. and provides a critical foundation of the data analysis. We encourage utilizing this long awaited resource in the following ways:

  1. View the narrated presentation to better understand the key findings at your own pace.

  2. Share the Presentation with your company colleagues and leadership / AEC Organization

  3. Host a viewing and discussion of the presentation at your office/organization

  4. If you find this resource useful, please share on social media for further outreach.

EQIA 2018 Research and Symposium Planning Team Acknowledgements:

  • Chair of Research - Annelise Pitts, AIA

  • Founding Chair, Fundraising,Outreach - Rosa Sheng FAIA

  • Committee Co-Chair Lilian Asperin, AIA

  • Committee Co-Chair and Symposium Chair -Julia Mandell, AIA

  • ACSA Research Partners: Kendall Nicholson, Michael Monti

  • Infographics: Ming Thompson/Atelier Cho Thompson

Untitled presentation (6).jpg

2018 Research Sponsor Acknowledgements:

AIASF Sustaining Sponsors, Autodesk, HOK, CannonDesign, HDR, SmithGroup, HGA, Skanska, Mithun, WRNS Studio, McCarthy Building Companies

Thank you to our Sponsors!


2018 Survey Early Findings Report

The Equity by Design Committee of AIA San Francisco is pleased to release our Early Findings Report. This report is available for viewing online. We look forward to issuing a Final Report for online viewing and publication later in 2019.

As we continue our data analysis, your feedback is important. What topics would you like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments!

Special Thank You to our Sponsors, Contributors and Champions! None of this would be possible without all of you.

2016 Equity in Architecture Survey Launches!

AIA SF Equity by Design's 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey launches today and can be taken thru April 1, 2016. Inspired by the 2014 research study "The Missing 32% Project" this survey will have questions on the professional experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations. This new survey goal is to attain 3,000 to 5,000 people who have graduated from Architecture schools and are currently residing in the United States. Current employment in professional practice is not required to take the survey. Survey links will be distributed via email through participating Architectural membership organizations, Academic alumni networks and firms.

Project Description

The Equity in Architecture Research Project will provide data on the ways in which men’s and women’s careers in architecture differ and the potential pinch points that affect talent retention in the industry. The survey will offer insight into ways in which individual practitioners, employers, and the industry as a whole can make changes on a policy and culture level that promote satisfying careers in architecture.

On average, the survey should take 20-25 minutes to complete, and will be administered within a 5 week period via Survey Monkey by email invitation. The survey results will be processed by the professional research team between April 2016 – July 2016, with preliminary results available in June 2016.

Survey Outreach:

Prospective survey participants will be reached through a joint effort by industry associations, including: 

  • AIA National & AIA State and Local Components
  • AIAS  American Institute of Architecture Students
  • ACSA  Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
  • NAAB  National Architectural Accrediting Board
  • NCARB  National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
  • NOMA National Organization of Minority Architects
  • Architecture Firms - of all sizes (firms can be provided a link to promote their entire staff to participate.)

Presentation of Findings:

It is anticipated that the key findings for the survey will be presented at the 4th Equity by Design Symposium: Meaning, Engagement, & Influence on October 29th 2016 at the San Francisco Art Institute followed by a Final Report in early 2017.

Project Background

In the United States, women represent about 50% of students enrolled in architecture programs, but only 18% of licensed architects are women.  Place this disparity alongside the widely distributed Denise Scott Brown Pritzker Prize Petition, the success of  Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the Australian Institute of Architects’ recently approved Gender Equity Policy and continuing attrition of women architects in the profession, and there is a perfect storm: a climate restless for discussion about women’s equitable representation and participation in the future of architectural practice.

The Equity in Architecture Research Project is an outcome of AIA San Francisco’s 2012 and 2013 sold-out Missing 32% symposium.  Formed from the desire for sustained discussion about equity in architectural practice, these events produced a commitment to change the status quo for both women and men by conducting additional research, publishing best practices, and fostering peer-to-peer accountability and collaboration among firms regionally and beyond. Of primary importance is attracting and retaining the profession's best talent pool by providing equitable conditions that empower individuals to succeed. .

Equity By Design's Mission Statement:

Equity by Design is a call to action for both women and men to realize the goal of equitable practice, advance architecture, sustain the profession and communicate the value of design to society. Our mission is to understand the pinch points and promote the strategic execution of best practices in the recruitment, retention, and promotion of our profession's best talent at every level of architectural practice.


Survey FAQ's 

Who are the researchers on the project?

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being collected, the selected researcher shall not be any person who will pursue admission to, or is currently enrolled in an architectural program, or has graduated from affiliated programs with professional degrees related to architecture.  Please see below for research team information.

What should participants expect?

Participants will complete a 15-20 minute online survey administered and secured by the research team. At the end of the online survey, participants can indicate their interest to be contacted by the research team for a follow up interview to their initial responses.

Where will the survey take place?

Participants can complete the online survey with a link provided in an official outreach email that will be forwarded by supporting professional organizations. Participants can take the survey wherever they choose, and at whatever time during the open survey period, from February 29, 2016 to April 8, 2016. Once the survey period is complete, no additional survey responses will be taken. Follow-up interviews will be scheduled at the participants’ convenience.

Are there any risks based on involvement? 

The research team will protect the anonymity of the respondents during the collection, analysis, and results phases. We do not foresee any risks based on involvement for either participants or firms given the confidentiality of the source data collected and rigorous protocol for statistical analysis being administered by our research team.

The survey time commitment seams rather long. What if I get interrupted while I take the survey?

If you find that you need to leave the survey and return where you left off, you can do so only from the same computer that you started your survey from.

Are there any benefits based on involvement?

Survey respondents and interviewees will not be paid for their involvement. We expect the architectural community to benefit from increased understanding about the impact of recruitment, retention, and professional development practices on both women and men in architectural practice.  Findings from the research will be shared with all participants and organizations in the form of infographics and a final report. Select organizations supporting the research will get a preview of the research results prior to release.

How will we maintain confidentiality and privacy, and ensure security of the data once collected and stored?

The research team will separate any names, usernames, and email addresses collected via the survey. Quotations from open-ended questions may be used in research publications, but never in a way that would specifically identify a participant.  Upon request, we will provide verification of the researchers’ procedures as endorsed by their Institution.

I took the AIA National Diversity Survey last year, how is this study different?

The Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 differs from the 2015 AIA Diversity Survey. This survey is a comprehensive deep dive in uncovering the Career Pinch Points and "Intersections" that influence professionals success and unique trajectories. The questions range from salary compensation, advancement goals, the type of work they do and what firms are providing in terms of benefits and workplace culture that encourages talent retention. 

I have many friends in the profession that I think should take this survey, can I forward them the letter and link I receive?

In order to maintain the integrity of this survey, we rely on a data set that fully represents the survey participants we are sampling. The 2014 survey was conducted as a popular survey and thus was prone to a self-selection bias with more women respondents than men. The 2016 survey link will be made available via email to architectural graduates through their alumni affiliations to Architectural schools and the architectural collateral membership organizations including those identified below. So, please do not forward your survey letter and link. 

I did not receive an invitation to participate in the survey, but would like to participate. How can that happen?

If you did not receive a letter to participate in the survey from your member organization, Please also check your spam folder to make sure it didn't accidentally get placed there. Please contact your member organization for information if you wish to participate, but did not receive a link.

Research Funding

The survey is funded through AIASF’s sustaining sponsorship program, equity champions and in part through the AIA National Diversity & Inclusion Grant. For a full list of sponsors and supporters, please visit If you are interested in survey sponsorship, please contact us by completing the form below.

Find out more information on survey here.

10 Power Tools to Kickstart Equitable Practice

by Rosa T. Sheng, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

This month's #Architalks "secret ingredient" topic is "TOOL" as suggested by Bob Borson, AIA, the originator of "Life of an Architect" blog and #Architalks blog series. According to, the word "TOOL" actually has 17 meanings! For this particular post, I chose "Power Tool" as a metaphor playing on the following two definitions. (And the reference "power" suggests increased effectiveness and efficiency at accomplishing the task).

/to͞ol/  noun

  1. An implement, especially one held in the hand, as a hammer, saw, or file, for performing or facilitating mechanical operations.
  2. anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose:

There has been a lot of discussion (and frankly some confusion) about Equity, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the last few years within our profession, but also in society at large. In 2013, I founded The Missing 32% Project to shed light on the challenges we face as a profession by not supporting our talent. Our work has evolved into Equity by Design to promote equitable practice in Architecture. The means to achieve this task have become our essential kit of power tools. 

Power Tool # 1 - Data

The 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey Final Report  - Inspired by Alexandre Lange's "Architecture's Lean In Moment", Metropolis Magazien, July/August 2013, this report summarizes the data analysis collected in the inaugural survey we conducted in early 2014. The report has been used by architects and allied professions nationally and globally as a starting point of discussion for the challenges and pinch points occurring in the workplace that cause talent to leave a firm or the profession. And things are happening. The research has been the impetus for action: from the AIA National Resolution 15-1 Equity in Architecture, to the establishment of the Commission for Equity, to firms of all sizes re-evaluating workplace policies for equitable practice.  But we are not done yet. We are getting ready for our 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey which will launch at the end of the month. Stay tuned!

Power Tool #2 - Knowing Your Worth

In the survey, the top 2 answers for why people leave the profession - Long Hours, Low Pay. While, compensation is predicated on the economy, the size of the firm, and the skill sets of the professional, there are valuable tools to better understand if you are being compensated fairly. AIA National has launched the tool - AIA Compensation Survey Salary Calculator to provide top line compensation information for 17 architectural positions by region and firm size. 

Power Tool #3 - Negotiation, The Art and Science of making the Deal. 

Less than 40% of EQiA survey respondents had negotiated for a higher salary if they had an unsatisfactory offer. This turned into a popular series of workshops to learn better negotiation skills. I shared an article in AIA YAF Connection in April 2015 that highlights the key components to becoming a better negotiator.  You can also sign up for our next edition of the workshop at AIA National Convention in Philadelphia this year. TH209 EQxD Negotiation is your Power Tool- on May 19, 2016 from 2-3pm

Power Tool #4 - Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice

Many have reacted positively to the Survey findings, but ask, where do we start? and HOW? While one might associate the process with "Eating a Whale", there is help and guidance to get started. Our friends in Australia have been very productive in publishing this resource for firms to address all aspects of equitable practice, including: pay equity, flexibility, leadership, mentoring, licensure, career breaks, and work culture. While there is a state side version in development, Parlour's Guides are a great start for anyone who is asking.

Power Tool #5 - Getting Connected

Architects may have mixed feelings about engaging in Social Media. I know that I did. Prior to starting Equity by Design, I was suspicious about it and worried about trolls. 3 years later, I am happy to report that I haven't been stalked or stoned to death by trolls yet (although I did have one troll, but I blocked him). In all seriousness, there is an amazing world of connections to be made to forward the movement for equitable practice. You can also strengthen your professional development, building relationships and connections to people who will likely become your future champions. Suggested: Twitter, Linked In, Facebook. 

Power Tool #6 - Using your Voice for Thought Leadership

While Architects are generally known for communicating in graphic ways, we are hard pressed sometimes in communicating who we are, what an Architect does, and our contributions to the value of a better society via the built environment. A great place to do that is having a blog on your website, or post on Linked In. If you don't have a website, you can easily start one up for free on Wordpress or a small subscription cost on Squarespace . These sites have design savvy templates and are easier to set up and maintain than a customized website. Another benefit of a website and blog is a place to showcase your work and a new way for potential clients to get to know you before even meeting. But, who has the time to keep up a blog post? Another option is to become an occasional contributor / guest blogger on our EQxD blog or . It's a good way to get your feet wet, without making a larger commitment to maintain your own site until you are ready.

Power Tool #7 - Find your Champions, Be a Champion

So, what are Champions? Are they mentors? What is the difference? The main differentiator is that champions are those that are actively and openly advocating for you in terms of professional feedback and advancement. They are going to bat for you and they have a vested interest in your success.  They can be your clients, your 'manager', your firm Principals, your teammates, your peer colleagues or consultants. They can also be people you meet through social media who are endorsing you, your achievements, your cause. In turn, be a champion to others. Make it a point to pay it forward.

Power Tool #8 - Build Recognition for Good Work

Despina Stratigakos launched a movement in June 2013 in Places Journal with an article titled "Unforgetting Women Architects" . Despina's modern day strategy to undo the effect of women architects being left out of the history books suggested that Wikipedia was the new medium of measuring existence and recognition. Since then, Architexx, Parlour, and N-ails have answered her charge to document notable and inspirational women architects. Write a Wikipedia entry to contribute to the restoration and ongoing legacy. Write about women contemporaries in architecture that you admire. Use the WiKiD guide developed by Justine Clark's Team at Parlour. Collaborate with other groups like SheHeroes.Org to expand the storytelling beyond our profession. 

Power Tool #9 - Work Life Fit

For many of these things that I have suggested, you may ask "Who has any time?" There are many tools out there for higher efficiency of time management including the Pomodoro technique . But beyond time management, the deeper question is "Is your day to day work meaningful to your career goals?" If yes, than your passion is the driver and you can find the means to optimize your time and priorities. If no, then you should consider re-assessing what it is that you are passionate about in all aspects of your life. By trying to integrate and align your passions you will have a better chance at leading the life that you want as we learned from Stew Friedman.

Power Tool #10 - Be In It, to Win It.

At the AIA Women's Leadership Summit in Seattle, Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq. in her presentation about leading a campaign to nominate Julia Morgan for the AIA Gold Medal summed it up pretty well. "You can't win the lottery, if you don't by a ticket". That doesn't necessarily mean that buying a ticket ensures a win, but it definitely increases your odds.  In essence, participate, be present, get involved before you submit for awards. Volunteer for selection juries so that you can understand the process. Be a champion to get others nominated and recognized. There are also many opportunities to promote the equitable selection of speakers and panelists at conferences, design awards juries, and elected Board Members for AIA Components. Get involved.


Here are more posts, in no particular order, from my friends that wrote for #Architalks 17 "TOOL" .  Read, tweet, share, comment, etc.

Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
3 Tools to Get Our Clients Engaged and Involved

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Best Tool In Your Toolbox

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The Tools That Help Make #AREsketches

Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
tools #architalks

Jes Stafford - MODwelling (@modarchitect)
One Essential Tool

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Architools - Mind Over Matter

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 17 "Tool"

Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Tools of an Architect #Architalks 17

Amy Kalar - ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #17: Three Tools for Change

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Can we talk?

Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Why An Architect's Voice Is Their Most Important Tool

Eric Wittman - intern[life] (@rico_w)
it's ok, i have a [pen]

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Tools for Learning

Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
Something Old and Something New

Greg Croft - Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)

Jeffrey A Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Helpful tools found within an Architecture blog

Aaron Bowman - Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Sharpen Your Tools

Kyu Young Kim - Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Super Tool

Jared W. Smith - Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Construction: An Architect's Learning Tool

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
(CTRL A) (Command-A)- Edit

Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 - Request for Proposals

by Annelise Pitts, Associate AIA

The AIA SF Committee - Equity by Design requests the submission of proposals to provide research and analysis services for the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey. Deliverables to include the administration and analysis of an approximately 80 question survey on the professional experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations of approximately 3,000 to 5,000 men and women practicing architecture across the United States. Parallel survey tracks are to be provided for the following:

  • Individuals who are currently working in an architectural practice
  • Individuals who have worked in an architectural practice in the past, but are currently employed in another profession
  • Individuals who who have worked in an architectural practice in the past, and are currently not employed in any profession

As the largest and most comprehensive study launched nationally to date on this topic, this research project has the potential to impact architectural practice nationwide.


  • background in survey research and analysis,
  • excellent statistical analysis skills, (with a degree or major being beneficial)
  • an interest in issues impacting the careers and advancement of professional women,
  • familiarity with architectural practice,
  • experience collaborating with teams to produce narratives which depict the findings to a broader audience

In addition, the successful research team or individual will demonstrate the ability to work in collaboration with the AIASF Equity by Design Research Committee to present survey findings in a final report  that can be understood by the broader AEC community.


Project Description

Building upon the successful 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey, the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey aims to create a comprehensive national dataset detailing female and male graduates of architecture school’s current positions and career experiences.

This phase of the Equity in Architecture Research Project will provide data on the ways in which men’s and women’s careers in architecture differ, and offer insight into ways in which individual practitioners, employers, and the industry as a whole can make changes on a policy and culture level that  promote satisfying careers in architecture for women and men alike, improve employee retention, and ultimately, improve companies’ bottom lines.

The survey will be designed to include approximately 80 questions, with multiple tracks based on the criteria above. It should take 15-20 minutes to complete, and will be administered within a one month period via Survey Monkey. The survey results will be processed by the academic research team per the schedule outlined in this document within the general timeframe between March 2016 – July 2016, with preliminary results available in June 2016.

Key research goals/objectives  for the 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey include:

  • Compare the current positions and career experiences of  female and male architecture school graduates nationwide, including both current architectural professionals and those who no longer practice architecture.
  • Identify career pinch points associated with these experiences, highlighting ways in which women experience these career pinch points differently from their male counterparts.
  • Highlight individual attitudes and behaviors, as well as employer-provided benefits and practices, that contribute to success in navigating these pinch points. Conversely, identify behaviors and practices that correlate with negative outcomes.
  • Follow up with respondents of the 2014 Equity in Architecture Survey to track career progression between 2014-2016. Compare men’s and women’s career progress over this two-year period.

Submission Requirements

For Full RFP, Download PDF Here.

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO December 31, 2015.

Please submit the following items electronically by no later than 5pm, December 31st. Please address all submissions to Annelise Pitts, Chair of the Equity by Design Research Committee, :

  • Executive summary, including a discussion of team experience with similar projects
  • CVs for all individuals who will be working on the project, including individual experience with relevant projects, their role on the project, professional accreditations, and educational and employment background
  • Proposed schedule of fees, including hourly rates and a projected breakdown of hours by phase listed above in the Project Timeline and Scope of Work
  • Proposed project delivery method, including schedule, methods of analysis, and a description of project deliverables included in the scope of work. Please discuss any suggested revisions to the project timeline, scope of services, or project deliverables
  • 3 References for the scope of work.

Resources/Existing Data

The following resources provide additional information of the work of Equity by Design:



Equity in Architecture Survey 2014: Final Report

May 14, 2015 San Francisco - The AIA San Francisco Equity by Design committee is pleased to announce the release the Equity in Architecture 2014 Survey Report. The report is available for viewing online immediately and a published version will be available later this year. We have deep gratitude for the generosity of sponsors and equity partners who have supported this important initiative.

While this is a broad overview "road map" of the analysis, there is potential for interpretation and further analysis. Nevertheless, the Equity in Architecture Survey 2014 Report is an effective means to start a much needed conversation. There will inevitably be more questions than answers to understand the findings. Please share this information with your colleagues, firms, alumni networks, and AIA Chapters. 

The research portion of the Missing 32% Project was envisioned as an endeavor with multiple stages, starting locally with the Bay Area, then expanding to the national scale with the ultimate goal of informing the global conversation on the issue of Equity in Architecture. Phase 1 of the project, a 90+ question survey conducted via Survey Monkey in February thru March 2014, explores the workplace participation and career aspirations of 2,289 participants with architectural degrees and experience in architectural practice within the United States. 

The disparity between male and female representation within the profession and limited leadership opportunities have been well documented and are a growing concern. Recognizing a paucity of similar research and documentation of best practices within the United States, Equity by Design’s mission is to supplement this conversation with more targeted information about our local and national community of practitioners.

Equity by Design: The Missing 32% Project

Equity by Design is a call to action for both women and men to realize the goal of equitable practice, advance architecture, sustain the profession and communicate the value of design to society. Our mission is to understand the pinch points and promote the strategic execution of best practices in the recruitment, retention, and promotion of our profession's best talent at every level of architectural practice.

Equity by Design is a committee of AIA San Francisco. The group is made up of a diverse cross section of the industry: participants include both men and women; new graduates and seasoned industry professionals; architects, designers, industry consultants, and those working in allied fields; those without children, parents who have continued to work full time in traditional practice and those who have devised alternative situations to accommodate the demands of raising a family. The group has dual aims. First, we seek to forge strong personal and professional ties amongst like minded individuals. Second, we aim to leverage these connections to achieve progress towards more equitable and sustainable practice across the field.

AIA YAF EQxD #yafchat Recap

If you missed the AIA YAF (short for AIA Young Architects Forum) monthly Twitter #yafchat today, you can catch up with Evelyn Lee's Storify Recap. We are thrilled that AIA YAF has chosen the worthy topic of Equity in Architecture for discussion! Much thanks to all who have come to the table, hungry to take a bite out of the Whale with us. If you are interested in learning more, please visit research early findings (full report coming shortly!) and blog posts and reading lists that prepare you for the discussion to affect change at every level! Equity by Design will also be featured in the April Issue of YAF Connections! Stay tuned!

From Groundbreaking to Ceiling Shattering: What's Next?

The Equity in Architecture Survey 2014 closed this past Monday, March 24th with nearly 2300 responses (more than double of our original goal of 1000!).  We received positive comments, encouragement and supporters as well as a lot of constructive feedback on how to improve the survey questions for our next go around.  We made many new friends along the way, through Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook.  It has been an amazing journey to get to this milestone of closing the survey, and yet our work has just begun.  Luckily, eating our whale seams less daunting with 2300 more diners at the table.

If you would like to continue being a part of this research study, there are many ways to help and we would appreciate your continued support and participation.

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