by Mark Lamster, Dallas Morning News, 8/29/14 (Excerpt from the Article, go to link above for full article) Mark attended a panel of 3 women fellows from the Texas AIA (9 total women out of 130 fellows) and this was part of his response to moderating the panel.
Those wishing to understand the high attrition rate among women in architecture should focus their attention on the assumptions implicit in those words, which are still disturbingly pervasive. Simply put: lack of workplace flexibility chases women out of the profession. The problem is especially acute in architecture, where young professionals — who are theoretically at the point in their lives when they will be starting families — are expected to work extremely long hours, often off the books. And architectural wages are nowhere near those of other professions (attorney, doctor, banker), which make large child-care bills easier to manage.
The problem demands systemic change within the architectural profession, a shift in the expectations and demands that are forcing women out, to one that actively and aggressively promotes equality. Lip service won’t do.
Those who would defend the status quo should consider how much we have to gain by a reordering of priorities — the contribution of 50 percent of our workforce. While we can dismiss the twaddle about women’s “gossamer” minds, it is true that women bring a different experience to the practice of architecture. As was noted during our discussion, statistically women are more likely than men to participate in the field of sustainability. Because they are more directly engaged in child-care, they approach our private and public spaces (or lack thereof) with a different set of assumptions.
One can’t help but wonder: How different would our cities be if the architectural profession was more equitable? Frankly, we shouldn’t have to wonder. It’s time to find out