EQxD 2014_Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 18, 2014

AIA San Francisco and The Missing 32% Project presents:

Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action!

October 18, 2014 at San Francisco Art Institute

San Francisco, CA (Aug 26, 2014) AIA San Francisco and The Missing 32% Project present the 3rd Symposium, Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action! on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at the San Francisco Art Institute. The day is designed to combine data sharing, active dialogue and learning-by-doing in one of the city's richest architectural assets.  The results of the Equity in Architecture Survey will be presented with focus in 3 knowledge areas: Hiring & Retention, Growth & Development, and Meaning & Influence. Go to SCHED.ORG for the latest detailed schedule and featured speakers that include AIA National, NCARB, and business leaders outside of Architecture. 

Interactive break-outs follow each session in 3 topics areas. Through active discussion and engagement of open design thinking exercises, participants will generate creative solutions to the relevant practice issues confronting architects, emerging professionals, and firm leadership. Participants will generate actionable takeaways to be collected and shared as Equity by Design [EQxD] Best Practice Guides; an open resource to transform the future of the profession.

Architecture Matters

The Missing 32% Project formed out of many successful events aimed at exploring the future role of women in architecture and specifically, the lack of women in leadership positions. Our work has evolved as a call to action for both women and men to help realize the goal of equitable practice to advance architecture, sustain the profession and communicate the value of design to society. Our mission is to understand the pinch points that can occur during career progression and champion best practices for the recruitment, promotion and retention of our profession’s top talent in order to increase diversity, expand career opportunities and ultimately, raise awareness of the value of the services that architects and practitioners alike provide.

Survey Says.

The Missing 32% Project launched the first Equity in Architecture Survey as part of a multi-year research study to promote discussion and inspire change within the profession. Nearly 2,300 respondents from the local and national architectural community contributed to a research effort that has helped to provide a candid look into the status of the profession and the challenges that must be addressed to preserve its value and relevance for future generations. 

How do you define success?

Our first Infographic illustrates the overall respondent demographics, including gender and age, as well as a compelling look the topic of what constitutes a successful career. Our preliminary survey finding compares how different groups answered the question "How do you define success in your career today?" Those working in traditional firms, sole practitioners, and architectural graduates in divergent career paths represent the 3 groups.  Out of 16 possible answers asked, all groups (with men and women nearly equal) selected 3 key factors over the rest;

  • Work/Life Flexibility
  • Working on projects of personal and professional significance
  • Working with a positive, talented, collaborative team.
  •  (Social Impact / Making a difference was a close runner up).

Not surprisingly, architectural sole practitioners valued "Work/Life Flexibility" as the highest factor; while those working in traditional firms and divergent career paths had selected "working with a positive, talented and collaborative team" as their top choice. Some of the remaining answers that were infrequently selected include: positive client relationships, positive project outcomes, earnings commensurate with experience/achievements, job title/status and recognition by the design community. 

These results are based on preliminary findings conducted by our research team from Mills College, with Infographic provided by Atelier Cho Thompson. We look forward to sharing other key outcomes of survey findings at Equity by Design on October 18th.


The Missing 32% was started in response to AIA National’s partnership with Mattel announcing architecture as Barbie’s career of the year in 2011. Following the announcement, AIA San Francisco’s Communications Committee organized Ladies (and Gents) Who Lunch with Architect Barbie with Ila Berman (CCA, Studio Matrixx), EB Min, AIA (Min | Day), Cathy Simon, FAIA (Perkins + Will) and Anne M. Torney, AIA (Mithun | Solomon). They discussed the state of women’s participation in the profession, examined stereotypes and roles associated with Architect Barbie and created a forum for emerging women architects trying to define their career paths. The hugely successful event sparked a larger conversation among local leaders and the chapter to explore ways to continue to engage students, individuals, firms, organizations and practitioners to find ways to advance the current position of women in the profession.

The popularity of that event fostered The Missing 32% Symposium on October 12, 2012. A broad range of speakers representing different career paths in the profession ranging from those working for large firms such as Marianne O'Brien AIA and Caroline Kiernat, AIA as well as sole practitioners and small firms including Anne Fougeron FAIA and Eliza Hart AIA.  Panels and Break Out sessions highlighted statistics that detail the current leadership structure of architecture firms and discussion on the following: What defines leadership? Who are the leaders within your firms? Who wants to be the leaders? And how can men and women work together to  increase the value and preserve future talent of the profession.

Fast forward, to the 2nd Sold-Out Symposium on June 7, 2013. The conversation of women's roles in architectural practice coupled with overall challenges for equitable practice and professional satisfaction had driven a clear call to action. The formation of The Missing 32% Project and Social Media presence came from the desire to continue the discussion more frequently than an annual forum to change workplace policy and culture.  In July of 2013 AIA SF Committee formed by panelists from "Building Communication and Negotiation Skills to Fit Your Audience" (Rosa Sheng AIA, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Trudi Hummel AIA, and Laurie Dreyer). The first initiative, Equity in Architecture Survey was conducted between February and March 2014 and received an overwhelming response nationally and internationally. The Missing 32% Project has also garnered a large audience on social media including Twitter, Linked In, Facebook and Blog posts via www.themissing32percent.com. The newest initiative is INSPIRE% that is a blog format Q & A that presents personal stories of amazing people who embody our vision of equitable practice, fostering and keeping talent within the profession and elevating the value of Architecture to society. 

 For additional Information, please contact AIA SF Communications Director Helen Wong  hwong@aiasf.org