Challenges and Experiences
Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Donald Hislop and Christine Coupland
Chapter 11: Challenges and change in the architecture profession: demonstrating uncertain futures through the struggle for gender equity
Architecture has long been recognized as having professional status (Fowler and Wilson, 2004). In contrast to other traditional professions, where technical knowledge may be a defining factor, architecture is also recognized as having an artistic dimension. Architects have a strong professional identity and often see themselves as producing goods that are of social and artistic value (Caven and Diop, 2012; Saint, 1983). Despite its status, employment in architecture can be regarded as precarious because, being tied to the construction industry, the practice of architecture is impacted upon by economic cycles and government investment in infrastructure (Beer et al., 2011). While professional occupations are often defined by legal restriction around who may practice the profession, in the complex world of construction, architectural work is not legally protected and therefore has come under threat from other professionalized occupations such as project managers and building designers (Gutman, 1988; Pinnington and Morris, 2003). Although architecture is not usually identified as a highly masculine profession in the same way as the allied professions of building and engineering (Male et al., 2009; Rhys Jones et al., 1996), women tend to be under-represented in key positions and continue to suffer career disadvantage (Fowler and Wilson, 2004; Whitman, 2005). In this chapter, after briefly reviewing the literature on professionals, we examine the current state of employment in architecture in Australia, the highly competitive local and global environments in which architecture takes place and the influence of the artistic aspects of architectural work on the profession.
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