Only 20% of architects are women
Parlour launches guidelines for change

Gender equity in the architecture industry will be the subject of discussion at a special event being organised by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney.

The University of Sydney is collaborating with Parlour Inc to host four women architects for a robust panel discussion on changes needed in architecture to create a more equitable and sustainable profession in the future.

To be facilitated by Parlour editor and co-founder Justine Clark at University of Sydney’s Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, on Wednesday 5 August, the debate will feature Sydney architects Stephanie Smith, Executive Architect and Principal, Lend Lease Design; Rachel Neeson, Director, Neeson Murcutt Architects; Camilla Block, Director, Durbach Block Jaggers; and Imogen Howe, Graduate Architect & Urban Designer, Allen Jack+Cottier Architects.

Observing that the architecture industry is facing pressures in the current market, Parlour co-founder Dr Naomi Stead commented that gender equity in this context might seem like a minor concern. However, the sustainability and viability of the profession are contingent on making sure one has the best and brightest people in the workforce, while also fulfilling their full potential. She adds that demographic diversity is linked to diverse ways of practising, and is crucial in the present, highly-stressed environment.

All the speakers on the panel are architecture graduates of the University of Sydney, and have extensive experience working for large Australian and international architects, and infrastructure companies as well as running their own practices over the last three decades.

Discussions will focus on different roles women might play moving towards a more equitable and robust profession. Some of the topics to be discussed by the panel include how diversity might be reflected in architecture’s demographics, ways of working, and modes of practice; how a practice should be redesigned to support diversity; and how gender equity expands the definition of architectural practice and engagement.

Parlour began as a communication platform for an ARC-funded research project ‘Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work, and Leadership’ (2011–2014)’. Following the completion of the project, Parlour became a not-for-profit organisation with gender equity in architecture as its focus. Parlour brings together current research, informed opinion and resources on women, equity and architecture in Australia.

According to Justine Clark, many new initiatives have been born since the inception of Parlour including a Gender Equity Policy and a National Committee for Gender Equity at the Institute of Architects, and the Male Champions of Change program at the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.

The panel is presented by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning Alumni Association and coincides with Parlour’s current exhibition Portraits of Practice on display in Tin Sheds Gallery at the University of Sydney.

The panel discussion will take place on 5 August, 6-8pm at the Wilkinson Building, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, 148 City Road, University of Sydney. Entry is free but requires registration.