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Women in Architecture – The Glass Ceiling

28 March 2022
Women in Architecture – The Glass Ceiling

A response to Dezeen’s Gender Survey

In case you missed out on Dezeen’s articles on their gender survey the key findings were that:

• Just three of the world’s 100 biggest architecture firms are headed by women.

• Only two firms have management teams that are more than 50% female.

• Women occupy just 10% of the highest ranking jobs at the world’s leading architecture firms.

• The percentage of women falls at each ascending management tier.

• 16 of the top 100 firms have no women at all in senior positions.

It is becoming increasingly discussed that female professionals are presented with a glass ceiling in their career paths. This is often true for many professions and female architects are not exempt. However, glass is not an unbreakable material and female architects are slowly beginning to break through.

The foremost reason for this ‘glass ceiling’ is maternity leave and the point at which a women adds raising a family to her lifestyle. Often an inevitable stage of a women’s life, this need not impede on her professional career. Society’s current ideas toward childcare are outdated but with the relevant support and the ever developing technological equipments, a woman can have the option of keeping up some levels of professional engagements during motherhood. The internet and face-time calling can allow professionals to work from home and a strong support around her can to give her further options on childcare. Women will continue to have babies until the end of time- that won’t change; but what can change is the culture that deems this as a women’s sole purpose and ability. It is perfectly possible for a woman to balance both, we simply need to provide them with the option.

Statistics also revealed that, practices with more women, encouraged more women to join. This refers to the idea that you attract what you are. It is important therefore that, in order to attract more women to architecture, practices need to show that they are supporters of women in the industry and actively advertise this.

This leads to the last recurring issue we will discuss that arose from the gender survey. It is thought that the lack of women in directing roles comes from their more shy and polite personalities compared to men. This is, of course, not true for all women and actually shouldn’t be true for any – it’s yet another stereotype. However it is true that when a person feels outnumbered or a minority in the work place it causes them to feel less deserving and stable in their position. Women need to speak out and not avoid shedding light on the inequalities that the face because, as architect Sadie Morgan mentioned, “the best way to break it is by the sheer pressure of numbers pushing from underneath”.

Increasing the gender equality in the work place simply boils down to a simple fact… Staff who feel appreciated and are treated well will, in turn, be more loyal, productive and successful workers.


The Gender Survey: