EQiA Survey 2016

2016 Equity in Architecture Survey

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

The AIA SF Committee - Equity by Design will conduct the Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 on February 29 thru April 1, 2016. Similar to the 2014 research study "The Missing 32% Project" this survey will have approximately 80 maximum questions on the professional experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations of approximately 3,000 to 5,000 men and women who have graduated from Architecture schools and in 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 (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.

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 and establish a legacy data set over subsequent years studies.

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, the potential pinch points that affect talent retention in the industry 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 Equity in Architecture Survey will be conducted between February 29th thru April 1st 2016. On average, the survey should take 15-20 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 academic research team per the schedule outlined within the general timeframe between April 2016 – July 2016, with preliminary results available in June 2016.

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

      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.


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.

Survey Outreach:

We are currently seeking collaboration and participation of the national architecture community. 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.)

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% symposia.  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. .

Our 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.

Our profession needs to reflect the diversity of the communities, stakeholders, and clients that it serves. We seek a synergistic approach that balances discovery through data collection and research, support of professional development through active learning (Learning Curriculum), and recognition.  We are committed to creating a network of peers that collaborate, learn from each other and, as a result, accelerate their professional development. The attached summary describes our research project, explains how you can contribute and addresses frequently asked questions (FAQ) about participation.


What is the title of the overall project?

Equity in Architecture Survey 2016. In 2014, the name was referenced as The Missing 32% Project, However, in 2016 the survey is specifically named to reflect our broader mission.

What will the research survey project involve?

The Equity in Architecture Survey will collect the professional experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations of approximately 3,000 to 5,000 men and women who have graduated from Architecture schools and practice in 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 (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.

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 20-25 minutes 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 1, 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 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.

Confidentiality and Research Team Qualifications

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture will serve as our research partner for this project, with Michael Monti, PhD, Hon.AIA, Executive Director, and Kendall Nicholson, EdD, Director of Research and Information. The ACSA has collected and visualized data about the architecture profession on its own and in partnership with other national organizations. Additional information on the research team and qualifications are available upon request.

Other Partners

The other partners of the Equity in Architecture research project include Atelier Cho Thompson for infographic data representation and Paul Ko, of LinkedIn for Interactive Infographics.

Participation in the Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 includes the American Institute of Architects (AIA), National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

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 http://aiasf.org. If you are interested in survey sponsorship, please contact us by completing the form below.

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

Thank you in advance for your interest. If you are interested in taking the survey, please do so through AIA, NCARB, ACSA, NAAB, NOMA, or AIAS. They have or will be providing links in membership emails. If you would like your firm to participate, please discuss with firm leadership/owners and contact us below. 

Name *