Women in Architecture Society
WIAS is an organization on campus that focuses on the support and positive
representation of women in architecture and other related design fields.
Our goal is to empower women and provide advice and guidance as they go through school and the profession in how to handle ones-self throughout their education and career
Yearly Membership is $25
Cash or Check to Joann Thacker
THE IMPORTANCE OF WIAS
WHY WE SHOULD CARE
It is important that we understand the scale and the importance of the imbalance of men and women in the design field as well as in the workforce as a whole. Now we all know the gist—there are more men than women working in the design profession as well as in many other fields across the board—but what are the actual numbers? Why is this a problem, why is it occurring, and most importantly, how can we fix it?
According to the Women’s Bureau of the US Department of Labor, women made up 46.8% of the United States’ labor force in 2016. While this doesn’t seem like a huge disparity between men and women in the working community, it’s when you begin to break down the professional world where the inequality shines through. 57% of the professional and related fields is dominated by women, but a closer look reveals that the bulk of that percentage is mostly due to women working in community and social services (64% women) and education, training and library services (74% women), notably jobs that are traditionally and historically designated to females. Not surprisingly, the other professional fields that have favored men in the past have a much higher disparity between men and women. In the computer and mathematical fields, only 26% of the workforce is female, and in the architecture and engineering occupations, only a meager 15% of the field is women.
WHY IS THIS THE CASE?
There are a multitude of reasons that create this inequality between working men and women. First, there’s the issue with education—Historically, men tended to achieve higher levels of education than women, which limited them to a certain set of occupations in the past. In this regard, men had a “head start” so to speak to fill out the design world. As time progressed and it became more and more acceptable for women to attain the same levels of education (or more!), discrimination in the hiring process interfered with their desires to pursue a design education. It wasn’t until Title IX passed in 1972 when gender discrimination was outlawed in education programs funded by the federal government. Before that, many schools, especially architecture programs, denied female students acceptance into their institutions, thus leading the way for design fields to become male dominant.
Unfortunately, even with the leveling of the educational field, women are still finding obstacles between them and design careers. In a survey published by the LA Times, 75% of women in architecture reported experiences of sexual discrimination. This discrimination could come from colleagues, bosses, even clients who believe that a male architect or designer would be a better fit for their project. Furthermore, many women feel as though having children would affect their design career negatively, potentially steering them away from the competitive and intensive design field. Not to mention the wage gap, where women on average receive 78 cents to every man’s dollar. Because of these reasons, women are grossly underrepresented in the design field.
Although women have made progress in the labor force throughout the years, it’s still not enough. We have increased our percentage within the workforce as a whole by over 20 percent since 1963, and more and more women are graduating from college to the point where they exceed the rate of men’s graduations. We’re on the right path, but what more can we do?
This is the reason why we are forming WIAS, to bring awareness to this disparity along with the other challenges that women face in the design field. We must unite to empower each other and encourage others that we can balance the workforce by supporting, educating, and inspiring each other. Together, we can confront this important issue and resolve it.
CAN I ONLY JOIN WIAS IF I AM A WOMAN?
NO! You do not have to be a woman to support women!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JOINING WIAS?
Networking and volunteer opportunities with local firms and organizations, a huge
support system, education of the process to finishing your degree, opportunities to attend conferences, becoming something greater than yourself. The benefits are endless!
HOW CAN I BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN WIAS?
Join our various committees, volunteer at events, attend events, reach out to officers, show interest in holding a position on the board.