Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not just an old boys network

We had hoped to see Barbie choose architecture as her next career as one way to spur more interest from women in the design industry, but that was not meant to be. A new group dedicated to getting women in more prominent roles in the architecture industry has recently launched a website and Facebook page and written a book, from which the proceeds will go to the so-called WIA (Women In Architecture) Fund. The fund will help pay for women to prepare for the architecture registration exam, accredit themselves for LEED certification, and travel to professional meetings. The push began when the fund's organizers realized that half of architecture graduate students are women, but women make up only 15% of practicing architects.

What do you think of this idea? Does your firm do anything to recruit more women?


  1. Would have loved to see Barbie as an Architect. Nothing wrong with exposing the profession to a population of curious young girls.

    The WIA fund is a great effort, brought to women by women.
    Architecture is a difficult career, and there are scarce (if any) resources out there.

    I am a part, and cannot wait to see what comes of this...

  2. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not an Architect (I am a Structural Engineer, probably a more male dominated profession that Arch!), but think Barbie could have been one (or an engineer! Pocket protector anyone?). I think efforts to facilitate women joining our profession are worth the effort, but it was interesting that in my professional life none of the Women in (fill in the blank) groups seemed to do much to facilitate finding women legitimate opportunities. I am glad to see this particular effort, WIA,is putting money where their mouth is.

    In my office we relentlessly pursued the top talent we could find at colleges. Funny that it turned out that our office was almost 50% female...just as the odds would predict. We found when we ignored gender and focused on talent, there were tons of talented female engineers out there. The other thing we noticed was that the average caliber of women graduates was higher than their male counterparts. My suspicion is that they had to be more committed and focused to make it through with few role models to draw them in.

    The big question is how to make a career in design appealing to women while not being mutually exclusive with a quality family life. We need to focus on mentoring, balancing work/life issues, etc. This is increasingly what drives my company in drawing in top talent, both male AND female, as we move forward.

  3. For those who want to read more about the quest to make Barbie an architect, log on to


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