The following post has been written by Susie Ashworth. Susie is a content editor for the Parlour website, which advocates for equity and diversity in the architecture industry. She is also the co-producer of the Parlour Guidelines to Equitable Practice, which won the 2015 National Bates Smart Award for Architecture in the Media.
AWS are proud event partners of Parlour and we invited Susie as a guest blogger for our website.
The facts are clear. Though there is a high number of women studying architecture and working at the junior levels of the profession, the proportion dramatically declines as women age and reach the senior ranks. It’s sad but true – many women choose to walk away from the profession at a time when they should be hitting their stride. So, why do they choose to leave? Is it about the long hours culture? The lack of flexibility for those with caring responsibilities? The inequity of promotion and that glaring and persistent gender pay gap?
Since 2011, Parlour has been working hard to answer those questions, to shine a light on the realities of the architecture profession for women, and to investigate what changes can be made to keep women in an industry that can’t afford to lose them. What has become clear is that improving conditions for women also improves the workplace for men.
Parlour: women, equity, architecture is an Australian-based gender equity advocacy group that aims to achieve a fair, equitable and diverse architecture profession – one that will be more inclusive, robust and effective for all. Its compelling research is an ongoing project that aims to track the progress of change over time – identifying the systemic issues holding people back, and suggesting ways to address them. Its Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice, a practical suite of resources covering important topics such as Flexibility, Career Breaks and Negotiation, have proven a handy tool for professionals keen to put their own practices under the microscope. Its popular website and guest-hosted Instagram feed provide a valuable ‘space to speak’, with Parlour supporters sharing their stories, experiences and opinions, nutting out the issues and looking for a way forward together.
In tandem with its digital ‘space to speak’, Parlour has run a successful series of Seasonal Salons around the country since October 2016, with regular salons held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth and Adelaide. This program is possible thanks to Parlour Partner AWS, whose enthusiasm and support has been invaluable to the event program. The salons are an opportunity for the Parlour community to meet, with a focus on connecting with other architects at different stages of their lives and careers, and building networks across areas of expertise or interest. Good conversation and connection are key, with speakers sharing their backgrounds and experiences, and offering tips on how to face challenges, juggle multiple commitments, and navigate complex career choices and pathways.
Parlour’s work is possible thanks to the support of Parlour Partners and Parlour Friends (who contribute through tax-deductible donations). We greatly value this assistance, and thank AWS for the ongoing commitment to Parlour and the architects we represent.