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    Institute's top-down approach to gender equity not going unnoticed

    Lucy Marrett

    Recent efforts by the Australian Institute of Architects to counter gender inequality in the profession have been picked up by mainstream Australian media.

    The Institute’s “top-down” approach to advocating gender equity in architecture was the subject of a recent report by the Australian Financial Review’s Tony Boyd.  In particular, the Institute’s recent policy change that set mandatory minimums for female representation on its board of directors was praised by the AFR.

    Boyd’s article, titled Australia's female architects have a plan for building gender diversity, cited many worrying statistics from the widely proliferated 2014 research report, Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership.

    The report noted that while the number of women graduating from Australian architecture schools is close to parity, they aren’t advancing to registration and the higher ranks in architecture firms at the same rate as men.

    Aware of these statistics, the Institute have been setting an example to the profession in its own offices.  In April they appointed former Property Council Executive Director and Women’s Property Initiatives Board member, Jennifer Cunich to CEO and in May they introduced a new policy that will see a mandatory minimum of three female board directors by the close of their 2017 annual general meeting.

    The Institute have also announced new members on the 2016-2017 National Committee for Gender Equality; the committee implements policy as well as actioning, programs and initiatives as a practical action of the Institutes Gender Equity Policy.

    ARCHITECTS DESIGNING THE WAY

    While these changes by the Institute have been picked up by mainstream media, they aren’t the only ones advocating the case for better representation of woman in the industry.

    Engineering and architecture firm GHD is renowned for their advocacy of gender equality within the architecture industry. GHD have twice in a row been the only architecture firm to receive an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

    Fulton Trotter Architects (FTA), also have made their stance on gender equality known by having a 60 per cent female representation in their Associate pool and 40 per cent representation among their Associate Directors. Along with GHD, FTA is attempting to overturn the current dwindling statistics of women in the industry.

    Parlour, an Australian research and website collaboration is a site designated to discussion, education and resources for women and equality within the Australian architectural field. Their number one aim as stated on their website is “To promote gender equity in architecture”. Their efforts for woman are perhaps the most progressive as they are taking a noticeable place with in the media to advocate for woman in architecture.

    Parlour not only discusses and provides informed opinions on the industry but also go to significant lengths to communicate directly to their audience; they host seminars, writing workshops, take on extensive reporting and implement guidelines including the “Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice”. These guidelines were developed to assist Australian architecture in moving forward towards a more equal opportunity profession for all.

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