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Equality in architecture: Pay gap quantified at global firms

Architecture firms Foster + Partners and AECOM are working toward promoting women into senior management positions.
Photo courtesy BigStockPhoto.com

A report from the Government of the United Kingdom has confirmed gender pay gap disparity at architecture firms Foster + Partners and AECOM. Introduced last year, the UK’s gender pay gap reporting legislation demonstrates the pay discrepancies between its female and male workers.

The report reveals Foster + Partners to have a median pay gap of 10.5 percent among its employees and a mean of 23.8 percent. The statistics also suggest a gendered hierarchy within the company, with the top quartile of the firm’s payroll comprised of 80 percent men and only 20 percent women, while the second-highest quartile is 66 percent men and 34 percent women.

The international firm has offices in New York City, San Francisco, and beyond and serves as one of the UK’s largest employers of architects. Representatives from Foster + Partners stated its intent to encourage gender diversity at a senior level through development and mentoring initiatives and insisted the findings do not point to an ‘equal pay’ issue.

“Men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs in the practice,” said Matthew Streets of Foster + Partners in a statement. “Our analysis of our gender pay gap shows there are more men than women in the practice and we also have more men in senior higher-paid roles. This is consistent across the construction industry.”

Meanwhile, the report found global engineering company AECOM to have a median pay gap of 21.9 percent and a mean of 21.5 percent. The firm, with U.S. offices in Los Angeles and New York City, also demonstrated a notable division of men and women in senior management positions, with the top quartile of employees comprised of 85 percent men and only 15 percent women, while the second-highest is 75 percent men and 25 women.

Like Foster + Partners, AECOM is working to remedy this disparity through encouraging women to pursue senior positions in the firm.

“Pressing for progress on gender parity is a major part of our commitment,” said AECOM CEO Mike Burke in a tweet. “In 2015, we set a goal to double women in leadership positions by 2020—and we are on track to do so.”

Although the United States has not implemented mandatory reporting regarding the pay gap, related findings point to potential gendered inequities in field of architecture. In 2016, the results of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA’s) Diversity in the Profession of Architecture survey demonstrated female architects felt they were underpaid and underrepresented when compared to their male counterparts.

Notable statistics outlined in AIA’s report include:

  • 50 percent of female respondents stated women were less likely to be paid the same as men for the same role;
  • 69 percent of female respondents felt women were either “somewhat” or “very” underrepresented in the field of architecture; and
  • 50 percent of female respondents said women were less likely to be promoted to more senior positions when compared to their male counterparts.

When asked why these inequities persisted, survey participants cited challenges related to childcare and maintaining a work-life balance, such as long hours and a lack of flexibility to work remotely. Women surveyed also commented on the difficulty they faced when returning to work following maternity leave, with 64 percent saying they are not given significant opportunities when they return and 51 percent stating the transition is difficult due to changes in technologies.

Since receiving these findings, AIA has explored strategies to increase the representation of women in the field of architecture. Recently, the institute partnered with the National Girls Collaborative (NGC) in an effort to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To read more, click here.

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2 comments on “Equality in architecture: Pay gap quantified at global firms”

  1. “Men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs in the practice,” said Matthew Streets of Foster + Partners in a statement.

    There you have it – right in this article.

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