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Reflections on Gender Parity at Real Estate Events – Women in Architecture at UKREiiF

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By Tarryn Leeferink – 26th May 2023

Corstorphine & Wright was proud to co-sponsor the Women in Architecture fringe event at UKREiiF this year, discussing ‘Gender Parity at Real Estate Events’ hosted at the Buro Happold office in Leeds.

Read on as Associate Director, and WiA steering group member, Tarryn Leeferink reflects on the event.

“UKREiiF is making incredible strides to diversify the UK Built Environment networking scene, endeavouring to open to a wider range of potential attendees, but the sea of blue suits; mocked by the likes of “MIPIM Lads” on Twitter, has still been prevalent.

The Architecture profession, and Built Environment industry, has a long history of gender bias which is typically very evident in networking scenarios. With a room full of women and only three men, this event turned that norm on its head. The lively conversation brought up barriers within networking, many points which can also be applied to the Built Environment industry as a whole. Whilst there seems to be progress, it is happening at a slow rate. Cultural changes are needed to encourage a more diverse future within the profession.

The conversation, chaired by Professor Igea Troiani, Head of Division for Architecture at London South Bank University and WiA Chair, brought together a panel of six experts from various disciplines across the industry. Led by Professor Troiani, the panel engaged in a dynamic discussion that encouraged audience participation and ensured that every voice had a space to be heard.

The debate centred around two key themes:

  • How we can create inclusive conversations and spaces for women in Real Estate and Construction events, particularly at large and high-level industry events?
  • What has worked in the past, including stories of success, impact and lessons learnt along the way.

The discussion lasted several hours and was steered to ensure that the audience and panel had a clear focus on identifying actionable means of change. With an intention to promote increased participation from individuals of diverse backgrounds in future events, these actions and outcomes of the discussion will now be compiled and presented to UKREiiF.

The debate comes as the median hourly gender pay gap across the UK’s largest architecture firms widens from 14% in 2021/22 to 16.7% in 2022/23. Consensus was that things are changing- but not fast enough. Whilst official UKREiiF events and talks are becoming more inclusive, it is noted that some Fringe and “invite only events” refuse to change.

Women in Architecture is one of the groups looking to tackle diversity issues within the Built Environment. This UKREiiF event sits within a series of mentoring schemes, networking opportunities and events that, whilst focused on women, are inclusive and open to all.”

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