The AIA New Jersey Equity in Architecture African American Experience Discussion Series Is Available On-Demand

February 21, 2021

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The AIA New Jersey Equity in Architecture African American Experience Discussion Series Is Available On-Demand

Subscribe to the AIA NJ YouTube Channel to Watch the Series. CLICK HERE TO GO TO YOUTUBE

According to Architectural Record, the 2020 NCARB By the Numbers report, the ninth annual report released by the organization, offers a closer look at demographics and diversity. 

The article by Mirian Sitz notes, “With more detailed demographic information available this year than in the past, the 2020 report showed that fewer than two in five architects are women, and fewer than one in five identifies as a racial or ethnic minority. Women in the profession are more diverse than men at every career stage, with over half who started down the road to licensure in 2019 identifying as a racial or ethnic minority. However, early in the path to licensure, the proportion of Black men starting the experience program exceeds that of Black women, 6 percent to 4 percent. This finding, especially when compared with data from the joint NOMA/NCARB survey conducted earlier this year, suggests “that there may be additional barriers preventing African American women from progressing in the profession,” says the NCARB report.

While NCARB and NOMA will continue to analyze the results of their joint survey—to which some 5,000 professionals replied in full—early results indicate “there is often slight, but widespread, disparity throughout the licensure process and in firm culture,” with women of color and Black professionals particularly affected. 

Two-thirds of African American survey participants reported they could not identify leaders at their firm who are similar to themselves—a sentiment shared by only 26 percent of white respondents—and 40 percent said they have faced or witnessed discrimination in the workplace. Half of all people of color who were surveyed reported that they decided to stop pursuing licensure “while working at an architecture firm”—a proportion 7 percentage points higher than their white counterparts.

Given the disparities in work experiences, NCARB calls the higher level of attrition of people of color “understandable, and potentially preventable,” adding that such findings “highlight the need for culture and systematic shifts throughout the profession.”

In response to the slow increase in architectural professional diversity, new data and comments from academia, AIA New Jersey opened up a panel discussion with key community members to look at the African American experience through six phases along the path to professional practice.  The series has been developed and moderated by AIA New Jersey Women in Architecture Chair Libertad Lauren Harris, Associate AIA, in conjunction with the Equity in Architecture Committee. Ms. Harris prompted an investigation of the past. present and future experiences and encouraged the panelists to suggest strategies to make improvements. This series is available on the AIA NJ YouTube Channel, offered as a free member benefit. 

AIA NJ African American Experience Vol 1 Equity in Early Ed: If We Can See It, We Can Achieve It

AIA NJ African American Experience Vol 2 Equity in Architecture Education: Removing Roadblocks

AIA NJ African American Experience Vol 3 Equity in Apprenticeship:  AXP/IDP/Interns

AIA NJ African American Exp Vol 4 Equity in Testing: What the ARE can learn from LSAT & Barbri

AIA NJ African Amer Exp Vol 5: Equity in Licensing: Discussion on the Current Process to Licensure

AIA NJ African American Experience Vol 6 Equity in Architecture: The Future of the Profession

Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA Equity in Architecture Chair said, “The committee was so pleased with Lauren being able to quickly pull this program together for AIA NJ. Our committee has been cranking out free, member benefit, CEU content with over 30 hours of programming in the last 24 months. This series was a powerhouse addition to that with 20 respected experts sharing insightful past experiences and visionary goals for the profession. We are proud to lead this conversation and optimistic for a more equitable future by putting these ideas into action. We hope that by making them available to all through our YouTube channel the saturation will be vast.”


The links, below, take you to documents referenced in the discussions. 

Monica Ponce de Leon on the Future of Architecture by Antonio Pacheco for Archinect

Hearing the Call for Structural Change by Monica Ponce de Leon

Life of an Architect – Costs Associated with Becoming an Architect 

Lynne Dearborn and Michael Monti: The Drawbacks of an Accredited Four-Year Degree

NCARB By The Numbers 2019

NCARB By The Numbers 2020

Does the Road to Architecture Impede Diversity in the Profession by James S. Russell, FAIA for Architectural Record

The ARE Series Tracking Costs by Razan Altraifi

Understanding your AXP Supervisor Role by NCARB

Prepare for ARE 5.0

Architect Licensing Needs a Gut Rehab – WSJ

The AIA Establishes a Commission on Equity in Architecture by Wanda Lau for Archinect

To Be or Not To Be…. Licensed by Hope Reeves for Dwell

Architect Licensing Needs a Gut Rehab by Frank J. Mruk III for The Wall Street Journal

Where are all the Female Architects by Allison Arieff for The New York Times

The Sherman Antitrust Act and the Profession of Architecture by


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