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Architecture Is Becoming More Diverse–Very Slowly

Architecture Is Becoming More Diverse–Very Slowly
[Photo: eugenesergeev/iStock]

The numbers are in. The architecture profession–long known for being predominantly male and pale–is becoming more diverse, according to a new report from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the body that oversees licensing architects.

In July, NCARB will release its full “By the Numbers” report–a survey about the state of the architecture profession including demographics, education, and how many people are pursuing licensure. But this week, the organization released its diversity findings early.

[Image: courtesy NCARB]
For the first time since NCARB began collecting gender data in 2012, gender equity improved at every career stage–an important metric for analyzing attrition and retention. In 2016, women accounted for 36% of newly licensed architects, up from 34% in 2015. They also comprised 47% of new Architectural Experience Program (AXP) participants, which is one of the earliest steps to becoming an architect and a metric that can be used to understand some of the youngest members of the architecture profession.

[Image: courtesy NCARB]
NCARB’s survey also found that 42% of new AXP participants and 30% of new ARE candidates identified as nonwhite, which is up three percentage points for both groups from last year’s report. (NCARB began collecting race and ethnicity data in 2015.) While that signals some progress, the report’s findings are still bittersweet: The percentage of newly licensed architects who identified as nonwhite remained flat from last year.

[Image: courtesy NCARB]
For architecture to stay relevant and make progress, diversifying the profession is essential. As a recent AIA report found, the top performing firms–as measured by winning merit awards–have diverse staffs. While NCARB’s report shows incremental improvement, there’s still a long way to go before architecture’s ranks reflect the demographics of the overall population.DB