Women continue to reach new heights in Australia, with women taking up three highly influential leadership positions in NSW.
On 4 February 2019, Dr Kirsten Orr commenced in the role of registrar at the NSW Architects Registration Board (NSWARB) and Crone Architects’ Kathlyn Loseby began her term as NSW chapter president of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). There she joined national president Clare Cousins, who will hand over to NSW-based president elect Professor Helen Lochhead in May 2019.
However, further change is needed, according to the AIA. The latest Parlour census shows more women are staying in architecture, becoming registered and developing their presence as employers and business owners. However, census employment data also indicates that women still face significant gender-based bias and discrimination in the profession.
“Growth is more muted than might be expected…women’s representation at senior levels of the profession is still disappointingly low… the gender pay gap widens as an age cohort grows older, and…many women are still disappearing from the profession altogether,” reports the census.
On the announcement of her appointment, Loseby notes that equality will be a priority focus of her presidency.
“We want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive and grow within the profession. Equity is essential for realising this opportunity,” she says.
“While the successes of individual women are admirable and inspiring and absolutely to be celebrated, we need more than rare examples. Equitable thinking needs to be instilled everywhere and in everyone; it needs to become the norm, not the exception.”
Loseby will share the chapter president role with Laura Cockburn, director at Conrad Gargett.
“Through providing a real-world example of effective senior role sharing we hope to encourage other women to consider taking up key positions,” says Cockburn.
As registrar of NSWARB, Orr is particularly keen to promote a better understanding of architecture in the broader community through new partnerships and interdisciplinary collaborations with allied professions.
“There are incredible opportunities to develop an expanded program about architecture’s role in improving the liveability of our cities,” she says.
“And an architectural profession characterised by equity strengthens that role and enhances its offering, because a profession that values inclusivity and diversity stands to move forward and cultivate the best and brightest.”
“The Institute and my own Faculty of Built Environment at UNSW are two examples of how promoting equity and setting targets can accelerate change and propel women into leadership roles. With more women role models who are also decisionmakers, many more doors should open to women in the profession.”