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Recession has driven women out of architecture

17 Jan 12 The proportion of architects that are women has dropped from nearly a third to just a fifth in the past three years, making the profession increasingly male dominated.

RIBA president Angela Brady
RIBA president Angela Brady

Since the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) started its Future Trends Survey in January 2009, it has been monitoring employment levels for women architects. When the survey started women made up 28% of architectural staff in practices in the survey. Its latest survey in December 2011 revealed that the figure was just 21%.

RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson described the exodus of women from the profession during the hard times as a cause for concern. The recession had had a “disproportionate impact” on employment levels for women working in architecture, he said.

Mr Dobson added: “The RIBA remains committed to addressing these inequalities through initiatives including the Architects for Change and Women in Architecture groups.”

The RIBA Future Trends Survey for December 2011 also showed that overall confidence concerning future workloads for architects is getting increasingly fragile.

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index for December 2011 stands at -11, down from -4 in November 2011.

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Practices in London and the southeast of England prove more optimistic about future demand for services, while those in Northern Ireland remain the most pessimistic.

Despite the survey showing confidence remaining delicate, it has also revealed that the actual level of work in progress has stabilised in recent months.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index stands at -5 compared to -4 in November 2011. Practices located in London are more likely to be recruiting staff during the next quarter than those in the rest of the UK.

Mr Dobson added: “Our respondents and practices continue to report intense fee competition, restrictions in bank lending and uncertainty over the general economic outlook as their main challenges.”

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