Urgent action on challenging workplace stereotypes needed to open up architecture to women

11 January 2024

Challenging stereotypes in the workplace is urgently needed to ensure women in architecture from the UK, Pakistan and South Asia are given equal opportunities to fulfil their potential.

In April 2023 the Architects Registration Board said only 31% of UK architects are female (a fall from 32% in 2022) and women remain ‘underrepresented in the architects’ profession’.

The call for gender equality was made by Professor Igea Troiani, Head of LSBU’s Division of Architecture, and Dr Mamuna Iqbal Vice President Women in Architecture Pakistan, organisers of the Voices of Women in Architecture events in London and Lahore. The events in January 2024 will celebrate the achievements of women in architecture and explore the challenges they face:

  • Women architects can be hampered by stereotypical assumptions on their appearance or demeanor that can affect their career progression or ability to stay long-term in the profession.
  • A recent blog on misconceptions about why women struggle with equal pay and opportunities in the design field included the stereotype that architectural site work is a ‘man’s job’.
  • Women architects can suffer from gender pay inequality and sometimes not being taken seriously in the construction site and the office. RIBA’s guidance on improving gender equality recommends recruiters avoid ‘language coded towards gender stereotypes’

The Voices of Women in Architecture events organised by Women in Architecture Pakistan (WAP) and Women in Architecture (UK) are on:

  • 11th January 2024 at London South Bank University (LSBU). The key speaker will be Sumita Singha OBE, the award-winning architect, academic and author and winner of the UIA:UNESCO International design, Women In Business and Atkins Inspire awards.
  • 18th & 19th January 2024 at the Razia Hassan School of Architecture, Beaconhouse University, Lahore. The key speaker will be Architect Yasmeen Laari, recipient of RIBA Royal Gold Medal 2023, she is Pakistan’s first female architect and the flag bearer of socially responsible architecture in the country.

Professor Igea Troiani, LSBU’s Head of Division of Architecture and Chair of Women in Architecture (WIA UK), said: “The challenges that many women in architecture face in achieving equality in the profession can be heightened for women from minority groups. Our events in London and Lahore uniquely focus on the experiences of Pakistani and South Asian women architects to understand their exceptional challenges but also how they make the most of their gender and cultural difference. We’ll be discussing how to navigate success, confront stereotypes, and address global challenges in architecture.”

Dr. Mamuna Iqbal, Vice President of Women in Architecture (WAP), said: “In Pakistan and South Asia, female professionals encounter a myriad of challenges that stem from societal norms, cultural expectations, and systemic barriers. Gender bias and traditional beliefs often restrict women progress in challenging professions like Architecture. However, many resilient women continue to break barriers and pave the way for change and this event is a step towards it.”

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