Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Lack of Diversity in Architecture

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) released its "Demographic Diversity Audit Report" for the profession back in December of 2005 . However, because the report didn't seem to get the kind of attention it deserves (and because this kind of information isn't published annually), I am reposting highlights here. (See the AIA website for more information on this topic.)

Holland & Knight, LLP (a diversity counseling company) prepared the audit for the AIA.
You can read more about the methodology and findings as prepared by Holland & Knight (H&K) and issued to the AIA. I'm making the link to the H&K Report available, because I think it sheds even more light on the topic (and its implications for the profession.)

The American Institute of Architects Summary and Review 2005 Demographic Diversity Audit Report DECEMBER 2005 (report)

"According to the United States Census 2000 Special Tabulation, there are 192,860 architects in the United States. Of that number, 20.3% are women, 2.7% are Black, 5.6% are Hispanic, 6.3% are Asian, and .3% are American Indian.

The major limitation to the value of the data collected by the Census Bureau is that the Census Bureau relies on self-identification [Shantyworld emphasis added] in determining whether a person is an architect, and given the 192,860 figure compared to NCARB's 2004 figure of [only] roughly 101,179 [U.S.] architects, the Census numbers are grossly inflated. The inflated numbers are likely due to unregistered and unlicensed design professionals referring to themselves as architects.

The AIA's membership includes approximately half (52,000) of all registered architects in the United States, and the AIA collects and maintains demographic information on most of them.
[ShantyMinister's Note: It is actually illegal for a person in most US states to refer to themselves as an "architect", and to use the term with/to the public in marketing materials, business cards, letterhead, etc. unless the person holds a State license to practice architecture. Violators can (and often are) charged with Class 4 felony if they misrepresent their licensure status to the public.]

Other, and .45% identified as American Indian, versus the demographics of the profession based on 2000 Census data, which are 85.1% White, 2.7% Black, 5.6% Hispanic, 6.3% Asian, and .3% American Indian.

There were notable differences in the rates of AIA membership between the various racial/ethnic groups and across gender. Thirty-five percent of Blacks, 30% of Hispanics, 32% of Asians, 38% of American Indians, and 39% of Others were not members of the AIA.

Highest degree attained. The vast majority of respondents had either a B. Arch. (45%) or M. Arch. (36%). Only 5% of respondents had an accredited pre-professional architecture degree as their highest degree attained and 4% had a graduate degree in another field of study.
Female respondents (42%) were most likely to hold a M. Arch. as their highest degree attained, while male respondents (48%) were most likely to hold only a B. Arch.

State of Practice: Based on the number of respondents, the states with the highest overall representation of practicing architects were California (12%), Texas (8%), the D.C. metropolitan area (encompassing the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia) (8%), New York (7%), Illinois (5%), and Massachusetts (5%). This geographic distribution is consistent with the geographic distribution of architects generally according to the 2003 NCARB Survey of Registered Architects.

Licensure/Registration: Overall, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) were licensed/registered. Of those survey respondents who were not licensed/registered (36%), 84% said they intended to seek licensure/registration. However, whereas 69% of White respondents were licensed/registered, only 45% to 48% of respondents of every other racial/ethnic group were licensed/registered, with no appreciable difference among the various racial/ethnic groups.

Primary Reason for Not Practicing: Over one third of overall respondents (35%) not practicing or not intending to practice architecture as a career identified "other" as their primary reason for not practicing. The second most commonly cited reason for not practicing was "professional dissatisfaction" (20%), comprised of "lack of job satisfaction" and "erosion of the architect's role in the building industry," followed closely by "compensation" (18%)."

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) published an article (July 2003) on its findings regarding the drop-out rate of women architects from the profession. The survey responses from practictioners in the RIBA research has some parallels to the AIA findings. (See the RIBA web site for more information.)

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