Data published by ARB confirms a continuing lack of diversity in the profession and the need for sustained action. In particular, the data shows that while the gap is narrowing, female architects are significantly underrepresented in the profession. The data also demonstrates significant underrepresentation in the profession of certain ethnic groups, despite a more positive trend among newly registered architects.
Wednesday 12 April 2023: The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has today published new analysis of the architects’ profession.
ARB maintains a publicly available Register of Architects so anyone using the services of an architect can be confident that they are suitably qualified and fit to practise. The Register is the most complete and authoritative source of information about all architects able to work in the UK. ARB has analysed data from the Register alongside an optional equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) survey to show insights into the makeup of the architects’ profession, areas of underrepresentation and changing trends. Publishing this information creates a unique opportunity for ARB to share a true picture of the profession, a key goal in its current Corporate Strategy.
ARB’s new analysis shows:
- Women are underrepresented in the architects’ profession. Only 31% of architects are female, which is significantly lower than the UK population.
- Representation is improving over time: in 2021, almost half the new architects joining the register were female. More younger architects joining the Register are women.
- White people are overrepresented in the profession, accounting for 88% of architects but only 83% of the UK population.
- Black or Black British people are underrepresented on the Register, accounting for 1% of architects but 4% of the UK population. Asian or Asian British people are slightly underrepresented, accounting for 8% of architects but only 9% of the UK population.
- Representation is improving over time. For example, in 2021, 77% of new registrants were White and 2% were Black or Black British.
- The architects’ profession is not evenly distributed across the UK. Half of all architects are based in London and the South East, compared to 27% of the UK population.
- The second most common location is outside the UK.
- Geographical representation is not improving. From 2016 to 2021, over 60% of architects joining the Register have been based in London and the South East.
- The majority (78%) of architects identify as heterosexual or straight. Excluding those who prefer not to say, 96% of architects identify as heterosexual, compared to a national estimate that 89% of the UK population are heterosexual. This means that other sexual orientations are potentially underrepresented in the profession.
- Architects are less likely to be religious than the UK population at large: 41% of architects are non-religious and 34% are Christian. In comparison, 48% of the UK population describe themselves as Christian and 37% say they are not religious.
ARB’s EDI survey also asks questions about disability and socio-economic mobility, but ARB has identified a lack of data in these areas.
Hugh Simpson, Chief Executive and Registrar, said:
“Our analysis shows troubling areas of underrepresentation in the architects’ profession when compared to society at large. Architects play a crucial role in creating a built environment that is safe, sustainable and where everyone in society can live well, and it makes sense that a profession that designs in the interests of a diverse society should be drawn from and representative of that society. Publishing this report is a first step towards understanding the makeup of the profession, and sharing the steps, consistent with our statutory role, we intend to take to support the development of a profession that better reflects society.”
The Board of ARB has committed to the following actions:
- Improve the data it collects through the EDI survey, the Register and through the accreditation of qualifications, to better understand the points at which certain groups leave the journey toward qualifying as architects.
- Consult on strengthened requirements for providers of architectural education and training in relation to equality and diversity
- Consult on revisions to the Architects Code of Conduct to promote professionalism and strengthen the requirements around equality diversity and inclusion.
A full list of actions ARB intends to take as part of its regulatory role is published in the report.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
ARB’s commitment to helping to improve the makeup of the architects’ profession:
ARB will take action through its education review, Tomorrow’s Architects to:
- collect additional data from institutions to help it better understand how students progress through initial education and training;
- set clear expectations of learning providers in relation to EDI, and test through accreditation whether they are meeting their stated commitments;
- develop the academic and practice outcomes a professional must achieve in order to join the Register, to more explicitly signal the importance of respect, and advocating for equality, diversity and inclusion.
ARB will use its planned review of the Architects Code of Conduct to reinforce that architects should treat each other, clients and communities with the professionalism and respect they deserve, and advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion. This will also include looking at the expectations of how those in leadership roles can support students on placements and architects early in their careers.
ARB will update its EDI survey and reporting so that it reflects more modern approaches to language and research. In particular ARB will:
- change the Registration process so that people only answer one question on their gender, and ensure that question includes multiple (not binary only) options, drawing on the format in the census;
- change the question on disability to better match the census format, and promote awareness of different forms that disability can take, to help people answer our question;
- change the question(s) on social mobility and better explain how it will use responses.
ARB will continue to analyse and publish the characteristics and makeup of new architects joining the profession each year (in the same format as our analysis of new registrants between 2016 and 2021) to understand whether the profession is changing.
ARB will continue to capture information through our consultations so it can know whether it is getting a proper and wide range of views on its policy proposals, and so that it can understand whether those proposals are inclusive.
ARB will work with other organisations in the profession and across the built environment industry to find out more about what they’re doing, what they think ARB could do more of, and what insight they might have for ARB’s work so that they can address the issues together.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is an independent professional regulator, established by Parliament as a statutory body, through the Architects Act, in 1997. It is accountable to government. The law gives ARB a number of core functions:
- To ensure only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practise as architects. ARB does this by approving the qualifications required to join the UK Register of Architects.
- ARB maintains a publicly available Register of Architects so anyone using the services of an architect can be confident that they are suitably qualified and are fit to practise.
- ARB sets the standards of conduct and practice the profession must meet and take action when any architect falls below the required standards of conduct or competence.
- ARB protects the legally restricted title ‘architect’.
For questions and information requests, please contact the ARB Policy & Communications team at email@example.com.