And now for the good news – the number of women registering in Australia has jumped!  Gill Matthewson explains the numbers and congratulates all those women who have recently become registered architects.


Photo Nick Bassett

Here at Parlour we have been pushing for women to register and, in particular, to do so as soon as possible – because it becomes more difficult later on when life gets complicated.

Here’s why we push it: registration is what is called ‘human capital’ in career and management circles, which is essentially one’s qualifications and experiences. There is a persistent and consistent finding in numerous studies on women in professional careers that this form of capital is absolutely critical for them to advance and get the good project opportunities. The same research finds that ‘human capital’ is not so important for men.[1.Deborah A. O’Neil, Margaret M. Hopkins, and Diana Bilimoria, “Women’s Careers at the Start of the 21st Century: Patterns and Paradoxes,” Journal of Business Ethics 80, no. 4 (2008): 733.] For many complicated reasons to do with the way women and men are perceived differently in our society, women need external validation. In architecture, registration constitutes that validation and adds to one’s human capital.

Although in our research we have found that a lot of ambivalence around registration in the profession (what it means, what it measures, et cetera) and Susan Shannon and colleagues argue that gender-based issues can deter women from achieving it, the bottom line is this – if you are female, registration will help you.

So, here are some numbers that suggest that our push has helped boost the recent numbers of women registering.

In 2004, Paula Whitman did a count of registered architects in Australia, and women comprised 14% of the count.[2.Paula Whitman, Going Places: The Career Progression of Women in the Architectural Profession (Brisbane: Queensland University of Technology, 2005), 31.]

WomenMenTotal % women

In 2012, we did another count and women had increased their proportion to 20.5%. The increase in actual numbers of women on the registers in the eight years from 2004 to 2012 was 849, a 53% increase.

WomenMenTotal% women

We did another count last year and found some good news. Between 2012 and 2014, almost the half the same number of women joined the registers as did in the previous eight years: 385. That means that in just two years there was a 16% increase in numbers (men increased by 4%). This boost has lifted women’s share of the registers nearly two percentage points to 22.2%.

WomenMenTotal% women

This is also the period when Parlour and the wider research project came into being and began sharing statistics and arguing for a more equitable profession.

This boost in numbers may be coincidental, but we have also had women tell us that they registered because of the issues raised by Parlour, so we think we can take some of the credit. But the real credit belongs to those women who have registered over this period. Congratulations to you all!


Note: Each state has its own register and so these are gross figures and include those registered in more than one jurisdiction.

Note: Data and commentary amended March 2017.