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The top five countries in the world to be a female architect

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…and the countries you’d want to avoid — especially if children are involved

Every year, BD surveys the world’s biggest architecture practices to compile the WA100. This year, we asked a few extra questions including how many female architects were employed at each practice.

There are lots of reasons for women and men dropping out of architecture: low wages, inflexible working, lack of childcare and long hours. We talk about this a lot. But now, for the first time, we can get a bigger picture on the imbalance between the sexes.

The Top 100 practices who responded say they employ 24,991 architects, but only 6,997 of those are women.

That’s just 28%.

To find out more about the practices that are the best at hiring and keeping women architects on staff, you’ll need to read the WA100 when it comes out later this year (you can pre-order a copy now).

In the meantime, we thought we’d take a look at which countries appeared to be the friendliest to female architects who want to work for big practices.

Not every practice who filled in our survey answered the question, so the sample size is small. But given that the ones that did include the biggest practices in the world, we thought the results were interesting none the less.

To balance out the results we cross referenced the proportion of female architects employed by these practices with public data on childcare, maternity leave and paternity leave to create our top five.

With childcare often cited as a major factor for one of a two-parent family to leave architecture, we thought the percentage of the average wage spent on this* would be a significant factor as women still tend to be the primary care giver in most countries.

We also looked at statutory paid maternity and paternity leave to see if there was any correlation.

Countries where there was more paid paternity leave tended to have a more equal proportion of female to male architects.

Best countries for ratios of male to female architects**

1. Vietnam

0.7 male architects per female architect

2. Turkey

0.8 male architects per female architect

=3. Sweden / Norway

1 male architect per female architect

=4. Germany / France

1.3 male architects per female architect

5. Spain

1.4 male architects per female architect

 

The best countries for female architects with childcare

1. Sweden

Sweden

Average number of male to female employees: 1 to 1

Paid maternity leave: 60 weeks full pay

Paid paternity leave: 8.5 weeks full pay

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 7.1%

 

2. Norway

norway

Average number of male to female employees: 1 to 1

Paid maternity leave: 34 weeks full pay

Paid paternity leave: 12 weeks full pay

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 16.8%

 

3. Germany

Germany

Average number of male to female employees: 1.3 men for every woman

Paid maternity leave: 14 weeeks full pay, 12 months on 65% pay (14 months for single parents)

Paid paternity leave: 12 months on 65% pay (14 months for single parents)

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 14.1%

 

4. Denmark

Denmark

Average number of male to female employees: 1.5 men for every woman

Paid maternity leave: total of 52 weeks fully paid parental leave of which a minimum of 18 weeks to be taken by mother

Paid paternity leave: total of 52 weeks fully paid parental leave of which a minimum of two weeks to be taken by father

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 11.2%

 

=5. Spain

Spain

Average number of male to female employees: 1.4 men for every woman

Paid maternity leave: 16 weeks on full pay

Paid paternity leave: 15 days

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 8.2%

 

=5. France

France

Average number of male to female employees: 1.3 men for every woman

Paid maternity leave: 16 weeks on full pay, rising to 26 weeks for the third child

Paid paternity leave: 14 days

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 16.5%

 

 

And three of the worst…

1. Japan

Japan

Average number of male to female employees: 9 men for every woman

Paid maternity leave: 14 weeks on 60% pay

Paid paternity leave: no statutory entitlement

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: not available

 

2. USA***

USA

Average number of male to female employees: 2.5 men for every woman

Paid maternity leave: none statutory across the country - five states require pay for six weeks of between 50% and 100% of salary

Paid paternity leave: none statutory across the country - three states require pay for between five and six weeks at either $250 per week, 55% of 66% of salary

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 38.1%

 

3. UK

Flag of the United Kingdom

Average number of male to female employees: 2.5 men for every woman

Paid maternity leave: 6 weeks at 90%, then 33 weeks at £136.78 per week (unless 90% of salary is lower)

Paid paternity leave: 1-2 weeks, rising to 29 weeks if mother returns to work

Cost of childcare as percentage of average income: 40.9%

 

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Readers' comments (14)

  • There is no surprise in this...although there should be! We have progressed so little, and we will be damned for it.

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  • well done BD putting women architects first for a change. it's not all cars and bromptons that's important

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  • Ironically it will only be fair when men can take the same leave as women by law. Only then might men be as likely to take leave and pay parity might follow but architecture is not the only area which this applies.
    Bd could do with moderating replies to articles more thoroughly. Especially by the first person who has commented. More people might comment constructively if there were less comments like that.

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  • This comment refers to a post which has since been removed.

  • I was surprised to read your headline. I was not aware that any countries are planning to become architects, and indeed I find it difficult to understand how a country can become any kind of architect - male or female.

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  • Lucy Mori

    I am pleased that BD is joining the AJ in the campaign to support women in architecture.

    Research has consistently demonstrated that mixed teams, of men and women, perform better than single sex teams. This means that architectural practices with men and women management teams will be more successful than those run by men on their own. I am still astounded by the number of medium and large architectural practices in the UK with all male directors and partners. The decision not to promote and retain women in senior management is not only bad business sense but is beginning to look antiquated.

    There is a lot of talk about the statistical evidence in terms of numbers of women compared with men - but I am also looking for action. Therefore, I have started planning a mentoring programme for women architects and will be looking for UK practices, as well as the architectural press, to support this initiative in the New Year.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    ...and I have started planning a mentoring programme for male architects and will be looking for UK practices, as well as the architectural press, to support this initiative in the New Year.

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  • Yasmin Shariff

    Its not about the childcare it is about the pay and the opportunities to get public and private sector work. Other professions have more or less 50% women including lawyers and doctors and they also have babies and need childcare. The difference is that they can afford it! Women in Britain get paid 25% less than their male counterparts for doing equivalent work (and often they have achieved higher grades!).

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  • Yasmin, I get paid less than a male colleague for doing more difficult work he cannot...a good £1100 a month.

    I'm also male and earning less than my wife, thus I'm the one taking time off work to look after ill children as we cannot afford to not lose her higher income (she's self-employed), we're struggling with childcare costs as it is...despite this I still manage to just about do a full week of work, yet I'm getting grief from a female boss 'because I'm never there'!

    It thus isn't just about gender, Architecture as a profession is far from family friendly or indeed flexible, and certainly does not match reward with either effort or capability.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    Women seem to think men just have fun.

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  • Munter Roe

    Feminist Twaddle.

    Men have it every bit as tough, if not more so.

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