The NCGE is looking for new members – put your hand up to make a difference from the inside. Chair Emma Williamson reports on progress to date, and forecasts continued conversation and advocacy in the year ahead.

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The Institute’s National Gender Equity Committee has been up and running for almost two years now – and when I say running, I mean it! We’ve had to come up to speed with all of the fantastic initiatives that have already been undertaken in the gender equity space, we’ve had to understand what individual chapter councils are doing, and then we’ve worked out where we can fit in at a strategic and practical level.

The Committee’s membership intentionally represents almost every chapter, with a mix of men and women from small, medium and large practices as well as academia. This mix has enabled us to position ourselves as a unified voice from a diverse background.

Key goals and achievements

In early 2015 we established some core areas to focus on:

  • Awards and prizes
  • CPD programs
  • Profiling women
  • Opportunities for women
  • Institute policy
  • Relationships

In each of these areas we sought to identify past and present initiatives, and to participate in relevant discussions to help push them forward. It’s an exciting work in progress but I can report the following:

  • We reviewed the Institute’s Code of Professional Conduct and proposed the inclusion of a 5th Principle, ‘The Obligation to Employees’, which would ensure consideration is given to equity and opportunity in the workplace. This is currently under review by National Council.
  • We initiated an extremely informative CPD event in Melbourne on flexibility in the workplace. Importantly it was filmed and made available online, ensuring that non-attending members could easily access the discussion.
  • We have worked with the national CPD coordinator to ensure a gender balance in the presenters for the national CPD program, and to include topics that encourage discussion and support of gender equity as part of professional development.
  • We are in the final stages of developing a National Prize for Leadership in Equity in Architecture. This will be included as part of the AAAA awards.
  • We undertook an audit of the selection process for juries for architecture awards and made changes to the criteria to ensure equity in their make-up.
  • We advocated for and were able to establish a partnership with Parlour. This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to reach out and connect with non-members as well as to enable Parlour to maintain an independent voice in the gender equity space. Through this partnership we will hold a symposium in the lead-up to the National Conference in Adelaide around the role of women in transforming the city – stay tuned!
  • We developed a profile series for the monthly AIA national newsletter. This works to raise the profile of women in architecture and, importantly, to advocate for a range of experiences and career pathways.
  • We have been developing a resources list with the Institute that will allow members to easily access scholarships, courses, grants and possibly even contract work. This aims to positively address the difficulties of re-entering the workforce, working flexibly, developing leadership in women or dealing with any other gender equity issue.
Looking ahead

Towards the end of 2015 we had our second face-to-face meeting for the year and established our primary goal for 2016 – to continue to work on each of the areas we have identified but, importantly, to better communicate our progress to the wider community!

To that end we look forward to posting more updates on Parlour, to having more news included in the Institute’s communications, and continuing to raise the profile of all the amazing women out there!

Through our ongoing partnership with Parlour we will continue to develop conversations about equity in architecture and promote and develop resources. These will help many women take positive steps to overcome barriers to meaningful careers in architecture.

Wanted: New members

This year also marks an important period of change for the NGEC with the need to replace five members who have completed their term. Our thanks go to outgoing Committee members Eli Giannini from MGS Architects (Victoria), Steve Grieve from Grieve Gillett Dimitty Andersen Architects (South Australia), Jessica O’Shea from Elenberg Fraser (Queensland), Andrew Broffman from Tangentyere Design (Northern Territory) and Rob Henry from Rob Henry Architects (ACT).

The Committee meets quarterly via teleconference with one face-to-face meeting a year, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday 28 April in Adelaide, to coincide with the annual architecture conference. This face-to-face meeting will mark the commencement of the new term of the committee.

If you’d like to get involved, please put your hand up. If you know someone who would be great for the job, tap them on the shoulder and encourage them to apply.

We are seeking expressions of interest from men and women from South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Queensland, the ACT and Victoria to help continue the work. With so much change happening at a senior level within the Institute management structure, this is the perfect time to make an impact!

See all the details here. The closing date for applications is Friday 11 March 2016.


Emma Williamson is Practice Director of WA-based CODA, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow of Monash University and Chair of the National Gender Equity Committee for the Australian Institute of Architects.