Parlour is thrilled and delighted to be awarded the 2020 Paula Whitman Leadership in Gender Equity Prize.

Naomi Stead, Alison Cleary, Gill Matthewson, Susie Ashworth, Justine Clark, Julie Willis, Sarah Lynn Rees. Photo: Peter Bennetts.

This recognition of eight years of research, advocacy and action is much appreciated. We have all worked very hard on and for Parlour, and it is lovely to have this work celebrated, and the impact valued.

It is also timely. The impacts of the pandemic are reshaping and remaking architectural workplaces and inviting much speculation on the role, shape and meaning of public and private spaces. The effects of the associated downturn are also very likely to have a gendered component, closely entwined with many others. We must be both mindful and vigilant – gender equity is one of the UN Sustainable Goals for good reason! At the same time, it seems that those practices that had already invested in flexible systems and processes to support gender equity are better placed to navigate the pandemic environment.

Parlour is continuing to explore the effects and impacts, publish considered opinion and analysis, and share stories. This award helps give us an extra spring in our step as we plan our next moves!

We are particularly pleased to receive an award named after Paula Whitman. There are many intersections between Paula’s work and our own. Some of us also had the good fortune to know Paula personally – she was a lively, sparkly, super smart woman who contributed a huge amount to Australian architecture. Paula’s research project – Going Places: the Career Progression of Women in Architecture – was an important precursor to our own. Responses to this research, commissioned in 2006 by Justine Clark as editor of Architecture Australia, were one of the first public discussions of the experiences of women in architecture in Australia for some years, and many of those who contributed to this became active within Parlour’s activities too. The Prize was set up through the initiative of the National Committee for Gender Equity and was championed by Naomi Stead. Of course, the NCGE is itself an outcome of our research project.

We acknowledge the work of our colleagues on the research project that led to Parlour – Amanda Roan, Gillian Whitehouse and Sandra Kaji-O’Grady – and the partners that supported it – The University of Queensland, the University of Melbourne, the Institute, Architecture Media, BVN, Bates Smart and PTW.

We also acknowledge Karen Burns, our comrade for Parlour’s first seven years who, among many other things, named the organisation, and welcome our new colleagues Alison Cleary and Sarah Lynn Rees.

Thanks to the jury and the Institute!

Receiving the award via zoom!


Launched in 2012, Parlour is synonymous with gender equity in architecture. Combining research, education, advocacy and engagement, Parlour’s work has led to significant changes in policy, structure and attitudes across the profession in Australia and increasingly around the world.

Activist and advocacy work of Parlour is based on scholarly research developed through the research project Equity and Diversity in the Australian Architecture Profession: Women, Work & Leadership. Other initiatives include: Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice, Marion’s List (an online register of women active in the Australian built environment professions), WikiD: Women, Wikipedia, Design, Transform Symposium, Seasonal Salons, and the most recent research report – Parlour Census Report 2001–2016: Women in Architecture in Australia which extends the mapping of women’s participation in the Australian profession.

Parlour’s research and advocacy led to the development of the Gender Equity Policy for the Australian Institute of Architects and the establishment of the National Committee for Gender Equity which has successfully championed for significant reform across the organisation. While Parlour has many contributors, most notably it has been led by six women; Naomi Stead, Justine Clark, Julie Willis, Gill Matthewson, Susie Ashworth and Karen Burns. Each has made long-standing and significant contributions to gender equity. Current Parlour office holders also include Alison Cleary and Sarah Lynn Rees.

Parlour’s compelling and wide-reaching projects work to transform architecture into a more equitable and robust profession demonstrating outstanding leadership in gender equity in architecture.

2020 Jury
  • Clare Cousins LFRAIA (Chair), – National Immediate Past President | Director, Clare Cousins Architects
  • Anne Clisby RAIA – National Gender Equity Committee Co-Chair | Associate Director, Denton Corker Marshall
  • Melonie Bayl-Smith FRAIA – National Gender Equity Committee Co-Chair | Director, Bijl Architecture | Adjunct Professor, UTS School of Architecture
  • Chris Morley RAIA – EmAGN President Delegate | SA EmAGN Co-Chair | Director, Echelon Studio Gina Engelhardt – SONA President | Student of Architecture, Hassell