Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession:
Women, Work and Leadership

Women have been an active and highly successful part of the architecture profession in Australia for more than a hundred years, but they remain dramatically under-represented at senior management level and in professional leadership roles, and also leave the profession at much higher rates than men. Impediments to women’s career progression continue to be poorly understood by both the profession and its representative bodies.

The research project Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work and Leadership seeks to address this situation. The project, which began in mid-2011, interrogates patterns of women’s participation, progression and representation in the architectural profession, paying particular attention to women’s under-representation in senior management.

The project aims to map women’s participation in the architectural profession in Australia and to understand why women are under-represented at senior management level. It will identify actual and perceived barriers to women architects’ promotion and progression, and identify examples of good employment practice in architecture. It will understand the role gender plays in structuring professional identity and aspirations in architecture, and will explain how gendered behaviour patterns are reproduced and reconfigured within specific workplaces. It will also examine the impact of women’s participation on practice and innovation in architecture, and better understand the social, economic, and architectural advantages of a gender-diverse workforce.

Led by Dr Naomi Stead, the research is funded through an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. The project is a highly collaborative one, involving nine scholars from four universities along with five linkage partners. Part of the research includes work with and about three large architectural practices. This work, which involves gathering statistical data, in-depth interviews, participant observation in the work environment and visual documentation of the practice, is being undertaken by Gill Matthewson as part of her PhD project, Making and Unmaking: Gender and the Architectural Profession.

Outcomes will include a range of publications, a draft Equity and Diversity Policy for the Australian Institute of Architects, surveys and communication and engagement with the architectural community through a variety of means, including this website.

For updates on research being undertaken as part of this project see the research posts. Throughout the site, the research project is referred to as the ‘Women, Work and Leadership’ project as a short form.

We hope this project will also lead on to future research exploring on architecture, equity, diversity and gender in different ways.

Researchers

Dr Naomi Stead, University of Queensland
Professor Julie Willis, University of Melbourne
Professor Sandra Kaji-O’Grady, University of Queensland
Professor Gillian Whitehouse, University of Queensland
Professor Susan Savage, Queensland University of Technology
Dr Karen Burns, University of Melbourne
Dr Amanda Roan, University of Queensland
Ms Justine Clark
Ms Gill Matthewson, University of Queensland

Linkage partners

Australian Institute of Architects
Architecture Media
BVN Architecture
Bates Smart
PTW Architects