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RIBA celebrates Women’s History Month 2022

Throughout March we’ll be celebrating the major contribution women make to architecture and reflecting on our progress in addressing the structural barriers that perpetuate gender inequality.

24 February 2022

Each year, Women’s History Month (1 to 31 March) and International Women’s Day (8 March) give us the opportunity to shift our focus onto the major contribution women make to our profession and reflect on our progress to address the structural barriers that perpetuate inequality and impede women’s success.

© Vonecia Carswell

Supporting women in architecture

In 2021, the RIBA pledged that we would address systemic issues in a more targeted way – and we’re pleased to report that actions have been taken in the following areas:

Menopause and menstruation

  • in July 2021 we hosted a menopause webinar which explored menopausal symptoms, stigma, the support currently available and what's missing
  • later in the year we joined Henpicked and signed-up to their workplace best-practice toolkit – we’ve since rolled out menopause guidance for RIBA staff and managers
  • in November, as part of RIBA Radio we invited doctor and founder of Decolonising Contraception Dr Anabel Sowemimo to talk about reproductive health and Sally Leech from Henpicked to discuss menopause at work

Caregiving and acknowledging the burden of unpaid women’s work

  • in May 2021 we set up the Balance Community for staff, a safe space for women and those with unpaid caring responsibilities to highlight concerns, raise awareness and celebrate their identity. The goal is to open these groups to the membership later this year
  • as part of RIBA Radio we invited architect Clare Nash to discuss best practice in managing a flexible workplace to allow for caring responsibilities

Slowing and reducing the off-ramping of women mid-study and mid-career

  • we have supported FAME Collective by funding research into how practitioners and students from underrepresented backgrounds – specifically those whose identities intersects gender and race – are impacted by systemic barriers
  • we have supported a number of organisations – including FAME Collective, Women in Architecture and Let’s Build – by joining panel discussions and leading keynote talks
  • as part of RIBA Radio Zaimal Azad, Senior Campaigns Officer at The Fawcett Society came to discuss the Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay. We also hosted a session exploring the lived experiences of women in construction and we had a session on exploring proven career adaptations, including the SALI scheme exemplar from Ireland

We will continue to develop our policies and activities to address these areas and others, including biased recruitment practices, flexible working options and women in leadership. As ever, we will continue to share updates on our progress, as we work hard to support our members and staff to deliver inclusive cultures.

Events

During Women’s History Month 2022 we’re also hosting and supporting several events – please join us.

Women in Architecture – Break the Bias talk

Tuesday 8 March 2022, 6 to 9pm, Boss Design Showroom, London, EC1M 5PA

Join Women in Architecture UK for a celebration of women architects who are breaking the bias in our sector and beyond.

Book your place now.

Collections spotlight talk: Women photographers in the RIBA Collections

Tuesday 8 March, 6 to 7pm, online talk

Learning more about the role of women in architectural photography in this online talk hosted by RIBA Learning and RIBA Photographs Curator, Valeria Carullo.

Book your place now.

RIBA East Midlands: Citizen Jane film screening

Thursday 10 March, 6 to 9pm, New Art Exchange, 39-41 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham NG7 6BE

Join RIBA East Midlands for a film screening and networking event in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Book your space now.

Lancaster University - Women in architecture online taster session

Saturday 12 March, 10:30am to 12pm, online session

Join speakers from Lancaster University’s School of Architecture, Architecture graduates, as well as those currently working in the industry who will discuss some of their favourite women architects that have inspired them and helped shape their careers.

Book your place now.

Yasmeen Lari talk: Saving humanity and saving the planet

Friday 18 March, 6 to 8pm, RIBA, 66 Portland Place W1B 1AD and online

Join RIBA International for a talk with Yasmeen Lari, the first woman to qualify as an architect in Pakistan.

Book your place now.

Monica Pidgeon © RIBA Collections

Social media

We’ll also be campaigning on social media.

RIBA International

Head over to RIBA International’s Instagram where we’ll be running a social media campaign celebrating international women architects and their work. Each of our six International Chapters has nominated women to be celebrated – inviting them to discuss their inspirations, challenges, and advice they would give to aspiring young women.

#BreaktheBias

We’re also supporting the official International Women’s Day 2022 #BreaktheBias campaign.

Acknowledging and understanding that we all are biased (the shortcutting of information is a biological cerebral need) is the first step to enable us to move forward and be consciously inclusive. We can only truly mitigate the impact of hidden and overt bias and start to really tackle the systems that create discrimination by creating procedural changes. This is inherent to every piece of EDI work we seek to do at RIBA.

Inspire others by sharing an action you are taking to #BreaktheBias with an image you feel reflects this, on Twitter, using @RIBA, #BreaktheBias, #IWD2022

Director of Inclusion & Diversity, Marsha Ramroop, will be tweeting: "So pleased to see #BreakTheBias is the call to action for #IWD2022. To make headway dismantling discriminatory structures, this is where we must start. We must be introspective; ask "what is it about me that needs to change, so I can be better at working and relating with you"."

RIBA Radio

Want to improve your own understanding of barriers faced by women architects? Listen back to our RIBA Radio podcasts.

Episode 10 – Women/Gender pay gap/Reproductive health/Flexible working

A discussion about specific diversity and inclusion challenges where focused initiatives are leading to real change. Zaimal Azad, Senior Campaigns Officer at Fawcett Society; Dr Annabel Sowemimo, doctor and founder of Decolonising Contraception; and Clare Nash, Director at Clare Nash Architecture explore the issues behind the Gender Pay Gap, the assumptions that maintain it, and strategies to tackle it effectively.

Listen now.

Episode 11 – Women's panel

Structural Engineer Roma Agrawal MBE, and Architects Farshid Moussavi OBE and Melodie Leung, discuss a variety of topics from pay gaps and sexism, to women supporting women.

Listen now.

RIBA Director of Inclusion & Diversity, Marsha Ramroop hosting a RIBA Radio discussion.

RIBA Collections

Inside the Collections

This month we're spotlighting articles that focus on women architects and designers from within the RIBA Collections.

Explore the RIBA Collections.

Research guide: Women in architecture

Explore just a few of the pioneering professionals represented in our library and collections.

See the RIBA Collections research guide.

Pioneers: Then and Now

Last year we published recordings from an event held 35 years prior at RIBA’s London HQ – ‘Pioneers: Women Architects and Their Work’. In the recordings, Jane Drew, Pat Tindale, Elaine Denby and Rosemary Stjernstedt share insights into the successes and challenges they faced throughout their careers. We also invited contemporary women in the profession to reflect and respond to the points raised in the recordings – helping to inform what actions both us and the wider profession can take.

Listen and read their stories.

Self-portrait of Jane Drew, 1945. © RIBA Collections

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