Equity in Architecture Survey 2016

The AIA San Francisco Committee - Equity by Design is pleased to announce the long awaited release of early findings from the Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 as part of the 4th Sold Out Symposium titled Equity by Design: Metrics, Meaning, & Matrices at the San Francisco Art Institute on October 29, 2016.

As the largest and most comprehensive study launched nationally to date on the topic of talent retention within Architecture, the 2016 Survey resulted in analysis of 8664 completed responses to over 80 questions with the potential to impact architectural practice nationwide and establish a legacy data set over subsequent years studies.

Similar to the inaugural research study, the 2016 survey asked questions of Architecture School Graduates in the United States. The professional experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations of professionals fit into the following categories:

  • 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 (either in an aligned AEC field or not)

  • Individuals who have worked in an architectural practice in the past, and who are either currently not employed, taking a career break or leave of absence.

    • Comparison of the current positions and career experiences of architecture school graduates nationwide, including both current architectural professionals and those who no longer practice architecture.

    • Identification of career pinch points associated with these experiences, and comparison of the impact of career development, advancement, and talent retention of professionals of different backgrounds.

    • Highlights of individual attitudes and behaviors, as well as employer-provided benefits and practices that contribute to success in navigating these pinch points. Conversely, identification of behaviors and practices that correlate with negative outcomes.

Project Description

The 2016 Equity in Architecture Research Project provides data on the ways in which professionals careers in architecture differ by gender and race. Two frameworks are used to provide insights on equity within the profession today. Career Dynamics explores underlying tensions that persist throughout our professional lives, and the factors that drive career perceptions. Career Pinch Points offers insight into personal and professional milestones that can either hinder career progression or  influence employee retention. This analysis offers 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 Equity in Architecture Survey was conducted between February 29th thru April 1st 2016. The survey was administered within a 5 week period via Survey Monkey by email invitation. The survey results were analyzed by the academic research team between April 2016 – July 2016, and were first presented to the public at the Equity by Design Symposium on October 29, 2016. 

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

Survey Outreach:

We collaborated with the national architecture community who assisted in reaching survey participants through a joint effort 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.)

Early Findings

The 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey demonstrates that women and people of color continue to lag behind white men in terms of concrete measures of career success like annual salary and likelihood of leading a firm. Male respondents’ perspectives on their careers were also more positive on average than those of their female counterparts. Female respondents were less likely to feel energized by their work, less likely to feel that their opinions were valued, and ultimately, less likely to say that they planned to stay at their current job.

While there were stark differences between men’s and women’s salaries, career advancement, and perspectives, gender wasn’t the driving predictor of success within the profession. Factors like transparency in the promotion process, having access to a senior leader in one’s firm, receiving ongoing feedback about one’s work, sharing values with one’s firm, and having meaningful relationships at work were much more strongly correlated with all of these measures of success. Male respondents were more likely to report having access to each of these ingredients for a satisfying career in architecture.

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