My friend and architect colleague, Rosa Sheng wants to know why there are so few leaders in architecture. Rosa is a Senior Associate in Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s San Francisco office and also serves as the Chair of The Missing 32% Project.
Rosa Sheng photo by John Lee
What is The Missing 32% Project?
Based on information from AIA National a few years ago, in the United States, women represent about 50 percent of students enrolled in architecture programs, but only 18 percent of licensed architects. Since that original statistic, the actual number is a moving target, so the number 32 itself is less of a significant factor, [but more a representation of] the large percentage of women who are not getting licensed, being supported, or advancing into leadership positions in traditional firm structures.
The name The Missing 32% was chosen as a jarring reminder that the number should be closer to 50/50. It also serves as an activist-oriented call to action for both women and men who mutually believe that equitable practice is critical to advancing architecture as a profession.
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 percentageis in constant flux, the challenge of losing the large pool of architectural talent remains the constant.
The scarcity of women in leadership and prominent design roles in architecture has long been a topic of conversation and contention. As part of its mission to promote diversity and equitable practice in design, The Missing 32% Project (TM32PP) hosted its third annual symposium, Equity by Design: Knowledge, Discussion, and Action!, on Oct. 18 at the San Francisco Art Institute.The goal of the conference is to inspire and empower participants to generate actionable takeaways that will be collected and shared as Equity by Design [EQxD] Best Practice Guides as an open resource to transform the future of the profession.
The Missing 32% Project is a call to action for both women and men to help realize the goal of equitable practice to advance architecture, sustain the profession and communicate the value of design to society. Our mission is to understand the pinch points that can occur during career progression and champion best practices for the recruitment, promotion and retention of our profession’s top talent in order to increase diversity, expand career opportunities and ultimately, raise awareness of the value of the services that architects and practitioners alike provide.
The Missing 32% Project launched the first Equity in Architecture Survey as part of a multi-year research study to promote discussion and inspire change within the profession. Nearly 2,300 respondents from the local and national architectural community contributed to a research effort that has helped to provide a candid look into the status of the profession and the challenges that must be addressed to preserve its value and relevance for future generations.
You can see the findings here: http://themissing32percent.com