IMPORTANT Website terms of use and cookie statement

Women's History Month 2024 round-up

A blog summarising the activities and events in celebration of Women's History Month and International Women's Day by four RIBA Charted Practices: Foster + Partners, TP Bennett, Fuse Architects and BDP. All of these practices are members of our RIBA EDI Leaders' Action Group.

28 March 2024

Spotlight on RIBA Chartered Practices for Women's History Month

2024 is the first year that RIBA is celebrating Women's History Month alongside our RIBA EDI Leaders' Action Group. In this round-up blog we spotlight events and activities that some of our Chartered Practices, who are members of the RIBA EDI Leaders' Action Group, have been doing for Women's History Month 2024 and International Women's Day.

The RIBA EDI Leaders' Action Group brings together EDI professionals from across RIBA Chartered Practices to action meaningful change in the profession. The group works to identify where employers need support, co-create practical resources and tools to highlight good practice, and encourage uptake and implementation. Read more about the RIBA EDI Leaders Action Group.

The RIBA EDI Leaders' Action Group. Credit: Foster + Partners

Building Design Partnership (BDP) - celebrating women

For International Women’s Day 2024, BDP’s EDI Forum, BDP Belonging, wanted to focus on: celebrating women’s achievements; educating people on the challenges women face in the workplace; and encouraging cross-gender allies by bringing men into the conversation. Below is a summary of the initiatives BDP took to help achieve these aims. 

International Women's Day Panel Event 

A mixed-gender panel event was held in BDP’s Manchester studio, livestreamed to all of their global studios. The event included a keynote speech by Sumita Singha OBE and they were joined by an exceptional panel including Sumita Singha OBE (Ecologic Architects / RIBA), Sue Emms (BDP), Tim Heatley (Captial & Centric), Sarah Castle (IF_DO), Tom Ravenscroft (Dezeen), and brilliantly chaired by BDP Principal Ged Couser.  

BDP CEO Nick Fairham shared his thoughts on the learnings from the panel discussion, including the importance of allyship to support gender parity.

Charity Book Raffle 

£1200 was raised for Women for Women International through a charity book raffle. BDP staff were given the chance to win books by two of our exceptional panellists’ from their IWD Panel Event: five signed copies of 'Thrive' by Sumita Singha and five signed copies of '100 Women: Architects in Practice' by Tom Ravenscroft, Harriet Harriss, Monika Parrinder and Naomi House.  

Videos from our global colleagues 

Throughout March BDP also shared a series of videos featuring colleagues across their global network of studios. They shared their points of view on a range of topics, including:  

  • advice to women in their early careers  
  • the challenges and barriers which women face in the built environment  
  • why the industry needs to strive for a better gender balance  
  • what makes a good ally 

BDP International Women's Day 2024 Panel Event. Credit: BDP.

Foster + Partners - interrogating gender inequity

As part of the celebrations at Foster + Partners for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, the practice held a series of hybrid talks attended by their global community.  

In London, events included a presentation from the Women’s Network to mark the relaunch of the employee resource group; sharing information on purpose, goals, and encouraging open dialogue within the practice.  

Emily Phang, Senior Executive Partner, delivered a talk about her 22-year career with the practice. Sharing her journey from starting as an architectural assistant in the Singapore studio, to setting up the Shanghai studio,and to become Strategic Development Partner in 2023.   

From the Shanghai studio, Foster + Partners welcomed Dr. Zou from Am-Sino Healthcare who delivered a lecture; providing colleagues with information on women’s healthcare including food habits, cares for mental health and body health.  

Foster + Partners welcomed human rights campaigner, Labour Peer and barrister Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE PC to host an 'In Conversation' with acclaimed writer, academic and journalist Angela Saini. The discussion explored themes from Angela’s recently published book ‘The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule’ which was followed with a Q&A and book signing.  

Throughout the book, Angela goes in search of the true roots of gendered oppression, uncovering a complex history of how male domination became embedded in societies and spread across the globe, presenting a timeline through history. She eloquently positions that societies haven’t always been male dominated, that such a hierarchical structure is not inevitable, and that patriarchy is newer and more fragile than we think.

Angela Saini in Conversation with Baroness Shami Chakrabarti. Credit: Foster + Partners.

Fuse Architects - a focus on flexible working

Super excited with the themes of International Women’s Day this year - including forging inclusion and equity in the sector - Fuse hosted a Female Fuse and local client's lunch, using this opportunity to focus on all things EDI. Fuse have been reflecting on what they do around inclusion; they always try to make an impact despite their practice size, and they are proud of lots of things they get right. Similarly, Fuse are proactively looking at areas they need to work on.  

As a smaller practice, Fuse Architects are proud to have equity in pay for senior and board level women. Their practice has women-led technical teams and has been working on creating an environment that is genuinely flexible around families, mental health, and working arrangements. This inclusive approach to flexible working fits in with their People First philosophy.  

Fuse have an active EDI group that meets every month with objectives that are both internal and external - which makes a difference to both their working environment and their outreach programme. They have an internal focus on health and wellbeing, flexible working, equitable parental and care leave, and externally they work with schools and charities to contribute to a positive EDI agenda.  During Women's History Month, they celebrate these objectives and their positive impact. 

They are also taking proactive steps within the wider built environment sector to address equality in pay. Fuse has started to chat to people in the industry, to compile recommendations and they are actively involved with a working group that is contributing to a comprehensive charter for a more equitable future. While there is much work ahead and they are a small cog in the larger machine, Fuse Architects remain focused on making a positive EDI impact beyond the average architectural practice.

Fuse Females Lunch. Credit: Fuse Architects.

tp bennett - Pregnant Then Screwed

As part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day, tp bennett invited Joeli Brearley, the founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, to speak to colleagues about the motherhood penalty.

Watch the Pregnant Then Screwed trailer below.

Joeli spoke passionately and articulately about her experience as a working mother, of how by becoming pregnant, she crossed the line from ‘usefulness to liability’ for her workplace. Lienkie Diedericks, RIBA’s Inclusion and Diversity Specialist, attended and reported back on some of the key take-away messages from Joeli's presentation. Below are a few steps that organisations can take to better support gender equity in the workplace:

  1. Monitor your own bias against pregnant women and call it out.  
  2. Monitor who is promoted and who is paid more. 
  3. Track your retention of women after returning from maternity leave. 
  4. If there is a gender pay gap at your business, know that something is going wrong. 
  5. Fix your parental leave policy by offering enhanced maternity leave pay and paternity leave for fathers.  
  6. Set targets for gender equity – the evidence suggests that companies that set targets are more equitable.  

A note of recognition and thanks

To all our amazing women EDI Leaders' Action Group members for contributing to the blog (and the struggle for gender equity) - Jess Dunning (BDP), Jane Samuels (Foster+Partners), Amina Hassan (Fuse Architects) and Grace Cooke (tp bennett).

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, presenting at tp bennet. Credit: RIBA Inclusion and Diversity.

Latest updates

keyboard_arrow_up To top