Director of Practice Lucy Carmichael presented evidence to MPs and leading construction industry figures, on measures to support the recruitment and retention of women in architecture, at an evidence session in Parliament (4 July 2019).
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Excellence in the Built Environment – a cross-party group of MPs focused on the built environment and construction sector – held the session as part of their inquiry on the recruitment and retention of women in construction and post-Brexit skills gaps. Bridget Bartlett (Deputy Chief Executive) at the Chartered Institute of Building, Vicky Page (Regional Managing Director) at L&Q and Alastair Smyth (Head of External Affairs) at Guinness Partnership joined Carmichael to give evidence at the session.
Lucy stated that although the architecture sector fared well in terms of representation of women compared to many other parts of the construction sector, the RIBA did not view this as a reason for complacency. She highlighted that although women face many of the same issues across a number of sectors in starting and developing careers, working in architecture provided many unique challenges because of the project-based nature of the sector, and demands around working hours.
Although half of people entering architecture are women, Lucy highlighted that there was a drop off in the representation as careers progressed leading to as few as one in five senior roles in the sector being held by women. The sector needs to create a more progressive, transparent and open approach in order to ensure that architecture can retain skilled female architects.
The RIBA has made a number of recommendations in written evidence to the APPG, including:
- Continuing to implement the Working Time Directive, and re-evaluating the feasibility of ‘opt-out’
- Providing further support for SMEs to develop apprenticeships in architecture
- Instigating the UK government review on ‘routes to registration’ in order to support greater diversity in the sector
- Ensuring that roles are advertised transparently, and that interview and selection processes are unbiased, structured and skills-based
- Operating fair processes for setting salaries and encouraging salary negotiation by sharing salary ranges
- Operating fair and transparent, fair and objective promotion procedures
- Introducing sponsorship and mentoring opportunities for women
- Improving workplace flexibility including through remote working, job sharing and compressed hours
- Encouraging the uptake of Shared Parental Leave
Find out more about the RIBA’s activity on equality, diversity and inclusion.