Blog %

There has been much discussion raised about "Why are women leaving Architecture? and more broadly, Why is the profession losing key talent?"  Both women and men practitioners are disillusioned by the myth of work/life balance: Women are grappling with "have it all" expectations of juggling family time with the demands of full-time work.  Men are struggling to support their families solely on an architect's salary and fall back on asking spouses to maintain their jobs. The lack of affordable childcare and high cost of living only magnifies the challenges.  How did we end up in this modern family dilemma? What can we do to improve the situation?

2016 Equity in Architecture Survey Launches!

AIA SF Equity by Design's 2016 Equity in Architecture Survey launches today and can be taken thru April 1, 2016. Inspired by the 2014 research study "The Missing 32% Project" this survey will have questions on the professional experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations. This new survey goal is to attain 3,000 to 5,000 people who have graduated from Architecture schools and are currently residing in the United States. Current employment in professional practice is not required to take the survey. Survey links will be distributed via email through participating Architectural membership organizations, Academic alumni networks and firms.

Project Description

The Equity in Architecture Research Project will provide data on the ways in which men’s and women’s careers in architecture differ and the potential pinch points that affect talent retention in the industry. The survey will offer insight into ways in which individual practitioners, employers, and the industry as a whole can make changes on a policy and culture level that promote satisfying careers in architecture.

On average, the survey should take 20-25 minutes to complete, and will be administered within a 5 week period via Survey Monkey by email invitation. The survey results will be processed by the professional research team between April 2016 – July 2016, with preliminary results available in June 2016.

Survey Outreach:

Prospective survey participants will be reached through a joint effort by industry associations, including: 

  • AIA National & AIA State and Local Components
  • AIAS  American Institute of Architecture Students
  • ACSA  Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
  • NAAB  National Architectural Accrediting Board
  • NCARB  National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
  • NOMA National Organization of Minority Architects
  • Architecture Firms - of all sizes (firms can be provided a link to promote their entire staff to participate.)

Presentation of Findings:

It is anticipated that the key findings for the survey will be presented at the 4th Equity by Design Symposium: Meaning, Engagement, & Influence on October 29th 2016 at the San Francisco Art Institute followed by a Final Report in early 2017.

Project Background

In the United States, women represent about 50% of students enrolled in architecture programs, but only 18% of licensed architects are women.  Place this disparity alongside the widely distributed Denise Scott Brown Pritzker Prize Petition, the success of  Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the Australian Institute of Architects’ recently approved Gender Equity Policy and continuing attrition of women architects in the profession, and there is a perfect storm: a climate restless for discussion about women’s equitable representation and participation in the future of architectural practice.

The Equity in Architecture Research Project is an outcome of AIA San Francisco’s 2012 and 2013 sold-out Missing 32% symposium.  Formed from the desire for sustained discussion about equity in architectural practice, these events produced a commitment to change the status quo for both women and men by conducting additional research, publishing best practices, and fostering peer-to-peer accountability and collaboration among firms regionally and beyond. Of primary importance is attracting and retaining the profession's best talent pool by providing equitable conditions that empower individuals to succeed. .

Equity By Design's Mission Statement:

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.


Survey FAQ's 

Who are the researchers on the project?

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being collected, the selected researcher shall not be any person who will pursue admission to, or is currently enrolled in an architectural program, or has graduated from affiliated programs with professional degrees related to architecture.  Please see below for research team information.

What should participants expect?

Participants will complete a 15-20 minute online survey administered and secured by the research team. At the end of the online survey, participants can indicate their interest to be contacted by the research team for a follow up interview to their initial responses.

Where will the survey take place?

Participants can complete the online survey with a link provided in an official outreach email that will be forwarded by supporting professional organizations. Participants can take the survey wherever they choose, and at whatever time during the open survey period, from February 29, 2016 to April 8, 2016. Once the survey period is complete, no additional survey responses will be taken. Follow-up interviews will be scheduled at the participants’ convenience.

Are there any risks based on involvement? 

The research team will protect the anonymity of the respondents during the collection, analysis, and results phases. We do not foresee any risks based on involvement for either participants or firms given the confidentiality of the source data collected and rigorous protocol for statistical analysis being administered by our research team.

The survey time commitment seams rather long. What if I get interrupted while I take the survey?

If you find that you need to leave the survey and return where you left off, you can do so only from the same computer that you started your survey from.

Are there any benefits based on involvement?

Survey respondents and interviewees will not be paid for their involvement. We expect the architectural community to benefit from increased understanding about the impact of recruitment, retention, and professional development practices on both women and men in architectural practice.  Findings from the research will be shared with all participants and organizations in the form of infographics and a final report. Select organizations supporting the research will get a preview of the research results prior to release.

How will we maintain confidentiality and privacy, and ensure security of the data once collected and stored?

The research team will separate any names, usernames, and email addresses collected via the survey. Quotations from open-ended questions may be used in research publications, but never in a way that would specifically identify a participant.  Upon request, we will provide verification of the researchers’ procedures as endorsed by their Institution.

I took the AIA National Diversity Survey last year, how is this study different?

The Equity in Architecture Survey 2016 differs from the 2015 AIA Diversity Survey. This survey is a comprehensive deep dive in uncovering the Career Pinch Points and "Intersections" that influence professionals success and unique trajectories. The questions range from salary compensation, advancement goals, the type of work they do and what firms are providing in terms of benefits and workplace culture that encourages talent retention. 

I have many friends in the profession that I think should take this survey, can I forward them the letter and link I receive?

In order to maintain the integrity of this survey, we rely on a data set that fully represents the survey participants we are sampling. The 2014 survey was conducted as a popular survey and thus was prone to a self-selection bias with more women respondents than men. The 2016 survey link will be made available via email to architectural graduates through their alumni affiliations to Architectural schools and the architectural collateral membership organizations including those identified below. So, please do not forward your survey letter and link. 

I did not receive an invitation to participate in the survey, but would like to participate. How can that happen?

If you did not receive a letter to participate in the survey from your member organization, Please also check your spam folder to make sure it didn't accidentally get placed there. Please contact your member organization for information if you wish to participate, but did not receive a link.

Research Funding

The survey is funded through AIASF’s sustaining sponsorship program, equity champions and in part through the AIA National Diversity & Inclusion Grant. For a full list of sponsors and supporters, please visit If you are interested in survey sponsorship, please contact us by completing the form below.

Find out more information on survey here.