Join AIA San Francisco as we convene to transform challenging issues by research and equitable practice within the architectural profession and explore changes necessary to keep future generations of practitioners engaged in the field.
In the United States, women represent less than 50% of the students graduating from accredited architecture programs in the US. The number of women who are AIA members, licensed architects and senior leadership varies between 15% to 18% of the total. While the exact percentages is in constant flux, the challenge of losing the large pool of architectural talent remains the constant. Recent statistics released by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, “Where are the women in Architecture”, coupled with the momentum behind the Denise Scott Brown Pritzker Prize Petition, The He for She campaign by the United Nations, Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and similar conversations about solidarity against gender inequity, have lead to the perfect storm.
The Missing 32% resulted from an incubator event conceived and produced in 2011 by the AIA SF Communications Committee. In turn, “Ladies (and Gents) Who Lunch with Architect Barbie” was inspired by a partnership between AIA National and Mattel on “Architect Barbie” whose place on the toy manufacturer’s line-up was insured by Despina Stratigakos and her colleague, architect Kelly Hayes McAlonie. At the event, fellow practitioners Dr. Ila Berman, Cathy Simon FAIA, Anne M. Torney AIA, and EB Min AIA joined for a lively panel discussion on the state of women’s participation in the profession, including the impact of “Architect Barbie”.
The popularity of that event fostered The Missing 32% Symposium on October 12, 2012. A broad range of speakers representing different career paths in the profession ranging from those working for large firms such as Marianne O'Brien AIA and Caroline Kiernat, AIA as well as sole practitioners and small firms including Anne Fougeron FAIA and Eliza Hart AIA. Panels and Break Out sessions highlighted statistics that detail the current leadership structure of architecture firms and discussion on the following: What defines leadership? Who are the leaders within your firms? Who wants to be a leader? And how can men and women work together to increase their value as Architects and retain talent of the profession?
Fast forward, 2 years and 2 sold-out symposiums later, the conversation of women's roles in architectural practice coupled with overall challenges for equitable practice and professional satisfaction have driven a call to action. The formation of this group and website came from the desire to continue the discussion more frequently than an annual forum with a desire to change workplace policy and culture. In July of 2013 less than a month following the second Missing 32% Symposium, an AIA SF Committee was born from the panel from "Building Communication and Negotiation Skills to Fit Your Audience" (Rosa Sheng AIA, Saskia Dennis-van Dijl, Trudi Hummel AIA, and Laurie Dreyer). The charge was to drive additional discussion, research, and publication of best practice guidelines to preserve the profession's best talent.
On October 18, 2014, The Missing 32% Project hosted the 3rd sold- out symposium titled: Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action. 250 attendees traveled from all over the United States for the launch of the early findings of the Equity in Architecture Survey and participate in interactive break-out sessions in the three major knowledge areas: Hiring & Retention, Growth & Development, Meaning & Influence. The Missing 32% Project has received overwhelming support from sponsorship, AIA San Francisco, AIA National and positive press coverage including Wall Street Journal, Architect Magazine, Architectural Record, and Contract Magazine.
In May, 2015 during the AIA National Convention in Atlanta, the AIASF committee changed the name from The Missing 32% to Equity by Design to better reflect the mission and to expand the outreach of the movement. The group designed a 1/2 day workshop as part of the Pre-Convention program: WE310 Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, Action! Hackathon and Happy Hour to expand the awareness and discussion of challenges of talent retention in Architecture. A video documenting the EQxD Hackathon by ARCHITECT Magazine highlights the positive reception of the event. The lessons have been captured and shared with a larger audience on this site. On May 13th, the full report of the Equity in Architecture Survey results was issued online as a resource to the profession for further the conversation. Concurrently, on May 15, 2015, the Equity in Architecture Resolution 15-1 that was authored by Rosa Sheng, AIA, Julia Donoho, AIA and Francis Pitts, FAIA, and co-sponsored by AIASF and AIACC was passed by 4117 delegates in an overwhelming majority at the AIA National Convention Business Meeting. These events signify a major milestone for Equity since the committee's inception. Outreach continues with presentations at TEDxPhiladelphia on June 11, 2015 and KQED Forum and several Keynote opportunities for the duration of 2015.
This site is envisioned as a forum for conversation, a repository for articles, research, guides for equitable practice and a place for honoring the achievements of architects supporting equitable practice.
Equity by Design is a call to action for both women and men to realize the goal of equitable practice, advance architecture, sustain the profession and communicate the value of design to society. Our mission is to understand the pinch points and promote the strategic execution of best practices in the recruitment, retention, and promotion of our profession's best talent at every level of architectural practice.
AIA San Francisco The Missing 32% Origins - video courtesy of YouTube