Shelley Penn

9 December 2013 — The Australian Institute of Architects’ National Council has officially approved the organisation’s first gender equity policy.

The institute’s president, Paul Berkemeier, said the council’s decision to pass the policy at its December 5 meeting was a source of pride.

“The disparity between male and female representation within the profession has been well documented and a growing concern not only for the Institute as the industry’s representative body but also for members of both genders,” Mr Berkemeier said.

“It is with this in mind that I am delighted to share the Institute’s new Gender Equity Policy, which will provide the foundation for improving operations within the Institute through our governance, programs and services, employment and leadership.

“The policy will assist our members and the profession more broadly in employing gender equitable practices in their day to day operations.”

The policy establishes ten best practice principles designed to maximise fair and equitable access to opportunities and participation for women within architecture.

These are:

  • Acknowledge the profession’s obligation to accommodate the diverse needs of the community
  • Recognise and respond effectively to the diversity of members
  • Incorporate provisions to ensure gender equitable outcomes in all new Institute initiatives
  • Communicate the value of women in leadership roles
  • Promote equality of employment arrangements
  • Support the development of alternative and flexible career pathways within the profession
  • Develop cross-gender mentorships and networks
  • Educate the profession about the impact of gender stereotypes
  • Actively seek input on the needs of women members
  • Develop and coordinate specific programs to give effect to this Gender Equity policy

Shelley Penn, immediate past president and chair of the Institute’s Gender Equity working group said the policy would go a long way in readdressing the imbalances in the architecture profession.

“Despite similar numbers of female and male graduates for the last three decades, women are less likely to register as architects after graduation,” Ms Penn said.

“We only rarely become directors of practices and are also less likely to participate in the profession more widely; for example, by joining the Institute, where less than 30 per cent of members are women.

“As careers progress, the barriers for women increase, as evidenced by lower numbers in senior positions and higher attrition rates, and the need for part time or flexible work hours when juggling career and parenthood affects women most heavily.”

In addition to approving the policy, the council endorsed the establishment of a National Committee on Gender Equity.

The full gender equity policy can be viewed here.