Emma Williamson, chair of the new Australian Institute of Architects Gender Equity Committee, introduces herself and outlines the committee’s plans.

Emma Wiilliamson

My name is Emma Williamson and I have recently been given the great privilege of chairing the National Gender Equity Committee that has been set up by the Institute of Architects. As a committee we have been tasked to deliver on the important gender equity principles established by the Institute in 2013. (You can read the principles here)

A great deal of work has gone into establishing these principles, which responds to significant research that clearly establishes the range and impact of inequity on our profession. The committee is made up of representatives from almost every state and is close to 50% male (there are 11 members so tricky to get 50% exactly!)

I wanted to introduce myself so that you might understand a little about my interest in this topic.

I am a founding director of CODA, a practice that I share with my husband Kieran Wong. We started straight out of uni and from our cross-disciplinary beginnings have grown our practice to focus on architecture, interiors and urban design with just under 20 employees. Interestingly we are about 75% women.

Although Kieran and I share the practice, our careers have been quite different. I combined the early years of practice life with a full time career as an academic. Our decision to have children means I have had three career breaks and spent the last ten years juggling a part-time role in practice with more time at home. Kieran, on the other hand, has followed a more linear path of full-time work.

I am really interested in the impact of decisions we make in the early years following graduation and how these can significantly impact on our career choices later on. I am keen to explore the ideas around flexible workplace practices and investigate how that might impact meaningful part-time work. I don’t see this as a women’s issue. I see it as a practice issue.

As a committee we are keen to take action straight away, but we also want to put plans in place for changes that cannot happen over night. We are keen to hear from you if you have ideas that you would like to share. We are also the logical portal for you to communicate your frustrations if you feel that you need to voice a matter of inequity in the profession.

Parlour is a great resource for us all and we look forward to using this site to keep you up to date on our progress as a committee.

You can contact the gender equity committee here equity@architecture.com.au