Where are the women?  Measuring progress on gender in architecture

Over the past few entries on, you have been introduced to the following data sources –

NAAB Annual Report on Architectural Education

Directory of African American Architects

NCARB by the Numbers

Now, we wish to share a recent article (listed above) from ACSA authored by Kendall A. Nicholson, Ed.D., Assoc. AIA, NOMA, LEED GA.  To start, we must share that this has been an issue for as long as I have been in the profession – almost 40 years ago.  While I cannot remember exactly, the percentage of women in architectural education was certainly less than now, but it was not discussed.

As reported in the 2019 NAAB Annual Report, the gender breakdown of enrolled students is 13,285 (51%) males and 12,776 (49%) females.  In contrast, the 2008 NAAB Annual Report shows the gender breakdown of students enrolled is approximately 60/40 with 17,148 (59%) male students and 11,985 (41%) female.  Thus, over slightly more than a decade, the percentage of women in architectural education gained a full eight percentage points.

This is certainly progress within the architecture programs, but what about the profession.

As shared in the ACSA article:

“Like some professions in the United States, architecture has a long-standing history of being a male-dominated field. From its inception the discipline has not been accessible for all people. This 2020 edition of Where Are the Women? updates information highlighting how women make up an equal part of the population but an unequal part of the discipline.

The chart shown below calls attention to the path of progress for women in the profession using commonly referenced metrics. It starts with the U.S. population and tops out with the percent of females awarded the AIA Gold Medal over the history of the award.”

Access the article listed at the top for a clear image of the above chart.

From an article, Women in Architecture, on the AIA website:

“Starting in the late 1970s, surveys regarding women in the profession and leadership roles were conducted.  The numbers were not encouraging.  In 1958, one percent of registered architects were women.  By 1988, that number rose to four percent and to 13.5 percent by 1999.

However, the number of women that become registered, achieve upper management levels, become partners and own architectural firms has not increased at the same rate or in the same proportion as their male architectural counterparts.  Currently, only 17 percent (2020) of registered architects are women.”

Source: Women in Architecture —

Another article worth reading is that published in late 2018 – Where are all the female architects?  The subtitle might say it all — Nearly half of architecture students are women. Why are so few sticking with the industry after graduation?  As shown above, the number by gender in education is almost 50/50 yet the profession is not equal.  Why?

Source: Arieff, Allison (2018) Where are all the female architects, The New York Times.

Now, what can you do?  Read the following website, Madame Architect to learn firsthand what women are doing in the profession.

Madame Architect: is a platform celebrating women in architecture from different generations, countries, and corners of the industry. Some are just beginning their career while others own their own firms. Some stand out for their research, others for their technical prowess, and others for the success they’ve had building a firm with an impact.

There is much to do – certainly encourage females to the profession, but encourage them along the way not just as they enter and exit an architectural degree but throughout their career after graduation through to licensure and beyond.





Arieff, Allison (2018) Where are all the female architects, The New York Times.

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