We need to create a new set of best practices. That will be a design project in itself, based on data, shared examples, and interpretation. Once written, we need to find leaders who will adopt them, firm by firm, sector by sector. That pincer movement needs to make partners (small p) of those coming into architecture and those with enough seniority to make change happen.
— Alexandra Lange, Architecture's Lean In Moment, Metropolis July/August 2013

Project Background

In the United States, women represent less than 50% of the students graduating from accredited architecture programs in the US.  The number of women who are AIA members, licensed architects and senior leadership varies between 15% to 18% of the total.  While the exact percentages is in constant flux, the challenge of losing the large pool of architectural talent remains the constant.  Recent statistics released by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, “Where are the women in Architecture”, affirm the challenges of depleting talent.

The initial statistic, coupled with the momentum behind the Denise Scott Brown Pritzker Prize Petition, energy around Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's best selling book Lean In, the Australian AIA's 2013 instatement of a Gender Equity Policy, and parallel research projects started by groups around the world, (Australian site: Parlour: Women, Equity, Architecture and RIBA’s Why do Women Leave Architecture? Report ) and the continuing attrition of women from the architectural profession have created a perfect storm; a climate restless for discussion about women’s equitable representation and participation in the future of architectural practice.

The Missing 32% Project is an outcome of successive sold-out annual Missing 32% Symposiums that were conceived and produced by the AIASF.  Formed from the desire for a sustained discussion about equity in architectural practice, our goal is to change the status quo for both women and men. Our call to action is to conduct additional research on the subject, publish best practices and use these to foster peer-to-peer accountability and change among firms regionally and beyond, with the primary goal of preserving and attracting the profession's best talent.

This research brief summary describes our research endeavor "Equity in Architecture Survey 2014 ", explains how you can contribute and addresses frequently-asked questions about participation.

In May of 2015, the committee changed its name to Equity by Design to better accommodate the mission statement and increase the participation of professional community.


What is the title of the overall research project?

Equity by Design: Equity in Architecture Survey. The 1st survey was conducted in Winter of 2014. The Final Report was issued in Spring of 2015. The 2nd survey will be conducted in 2016.

What is the purpose of the project?

The research portion of the Project is envisioned as an endeavor with multiple stages, starting locally with the Bay Area, then expanding to a regional scale (California/Pacific Northwest), hoping to inform the movement to at national scale that will resound with like-minded global efforts.

Phase I of the project, a quantitative and qualitative survey conducted via Survey Monkey, will begin in by examining workplace participation and career progression of design professionals employed in architectural firms of architectural practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. The project aims to understand the demographic makeup of these firms at every level of practice, and to explore what firms are doing to provide equitable professional advancement and workplace environments that will attract and retain the best talent. A few key questions arise: “Why do so few women advance to senior leadership positions in the largest architecture firms? What are the pinch points/key factors that hinder advancement? And what measures could be taken to increase their participation or enable advancement in such roles, if so desired?

Phase 2, another incubator study being considered is based on similar quantitative and qualitative survey conducted at a national scale. While such an endeavor would require a partnership with AIA California Council and AIA National or national research entities, it is one of this project’s goals to be the example and catalyst for future study propositions aligned to achieve similar outcomes.

The future “Phases” of the Project are currently under discussion. Each subsequent phase will continue to focus on identifying measurable outcomes and the “Guiding Practices” to implement. We are open to input on the focus of these areas. New information about these endeavors will be provided as the Project advances in subsequent phases.


What will the project produce?

The project will produce research reports for each phase, along with specific guidelines and best-practice strategies for architectural practices. Phase 1 will focused primarily in California and the San Francisco Bay Area. In Phase 2 will focus on building the national audience that we started in 2014.


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.

The selected research team has submitted their statistical qualifications and methodology to ensure the validity/accuracy and confidentiality of the data collection. Once selected, we can provide a copy of their process to protect and preserve the privacy of participants and the firms they represent.


What is the duration of research project as a whole?

It is the desire of the project to continue in successive phases within a possible span of 5 - 10 years (depending on funding and interest) to collect additional findings that will enhance the initial survey statistics.


What is Phase 1 Equity in Architecture Survey 2014?

Phase 1 of the project is expected to take 5 months, commencing in January 2014 with fundraising and survey awareness. The survey will take place in February, commencing on February 18, 2014. The preliminary set of findings will be analyzed and with intended completion by the end of May and a final report will presented at The 3rd Missing 32% Symposium during Fall of 2014 and released thru social media.


What will be involved in Phase 1 participation?

During the Phase 1, Primary participants are identified as both women and men who have either graduated from accredited Architectural programs with pre-professional or professional degrees and currently practicing in Architectural Firms of various size located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other participants those who have left the profession or Architect and Design professionals outside of the immediate study area.


Are there any risks based on involvement?

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. Once the survey is open for data collection, no one except the research team will have access to the information provided.


Are there any benefits based on involvement?

Participants will be eligible for a drawing for free registration to the Equity by Design Symposium in Fall of 2016. Unfortunately, we cannot provide paid compensation to participants for their involvement. The aggregated research findings will be shared with all participants and nationally as well.  We expect that there will be indirect benefits to the architectural community, and especially to the positive career progression of both women and men in architectural practice.


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

Actual names/usernames/firm names, will not be disclosed or associated to survey files or summary analyses, and completed surveys will only be available to the project’s research team and used for the purpose of sorting the analysis. Quotations from the 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.

Confidentiality and Research Team Qualifications

Once selected, we will publish the qualifications of the Research Team. The procedures for obtaining the data and preserving confidentiality will be released prior to commencement of Part 2 of the research project.

I am interested in supporting this Project, How can I help?

For additional information about this project or to provide financial or volunteer support for this significant study, please contact us by filling out the form below. Thank you in advance for your interest.

Name *
Sponsorship Opportunities
Conducting this type of Survey at the local AIA level is a large financial undertaking. We kindly ask for your sponsorship if you are inspired to contribute to the cause.