Equal opportunities

How might we as architects participate in creating better future, if the opportunities in architecture are not equal?


The (insufficient) equality and accessibility in architecture replicates the situation throughout society. Success in architecture depends on the ability to navigate a competitive environment where every advantage counts and empathy is sidelined. However, the issue of equality may raise questions: what kind of architecture do we value? Should the architect rather impress or care? How can we provide equal conditions, where everyone, regardless of their gender, origin and social status, are free to pursue their chosen path in life?


Women in architecture

Although a female architect, particularly in today’s Europe, does not represent a transgression of social norms, discrimination against women can still manifest itself secondarily. Women in a wide range of fields are less likely to gain the confidence of investors that they can handle larger budgets. Women architects also bear the double burden society places on women in general of work and care. In the Czech Republic, women habitually take a relatively long time for child care (up to 3 years) and the insufficient capacities of preschool care do not give them many other options. Women thus drop out of the workforce for several years. Due to caring commitments, they often only undertake smaller projects. Those women who nonetheless succeed in achieving greatness in architecture can still be deprived of recognition and authorship in favour of their male colleagues.

Frances Bradshaw

Matrix, Feminist Design Collective

Working with Women, 1984

“We have all been trained conventionally by and with men, who have often devalued or ignored our work, describing it as ‘emotional’ or ‘confused’. As practising architects we have often felt alienated and marginalized. In order to revalue our ideas and feelings, we have always tried to do work together, to go to meetings and give talks in pairs and to discuss work in progress with a larger group. We have learnt from working with women who have not been trained as architects. They have questioned conventional assumptions about design and have been excited by the possibilities of creating buildings that suit their needs.”


  1. “It’s hard to think about future children … especially since my husband is also an architect and works the same way, but I’ve accepted that it won’t get any better.”
  2. "Employment is one of the great advantages of my office, which allows me to take maternity and sick leave and provides other social benefits. I am also fortunate to have projects that I enjoy, but unfortunately my salary is not enough to rent an apartment alone in the city where I work."


Gender pay gap

This figure represents the difference between the average wage or salary of women and the average wage or salary of men.

Horizontal gender segregation

This term describes the fact that women are more likely to work in certain industries and men in others. So-called male occupations are usually more prestigious and tend to be associated with higher remuneration, which significantly increases the overall gender pay gap.


The low representation of one gender in a collective of the opposite gender has specific manifestations that are closely linked to a number of gender stereotypes:

  • Women in a predominantly male collective (technical fields, industry, ICT, etc.) where they often hit a glass ceiling, face ridicule, suffer harassment, etc.
  • Men in a predominantly female workforce (education, services, health, etc.) often find themselves in a glass elevator situation.

Glass elevator

This is a situation where the career growth of some men (typically younger, of majority race and sexual orientation, etc.) is facilitated because women are often omitted from participation in certain important activities, e.g. strategic meetings or specialised training.

Glass ceiling

The glass ceiling describes the barriers (often hidden) that prevent a particular gender, social group or minority from reaching some of the more prestigious positions. Contributing factors to this phenomenon are, for example, organisational practices informed by stereotypes or the lack of opportunities to reconcile personal life, family and work.

Queen bee

The queen bee syndrome refers to a woman who is successful in her career but refuses to help other women to achieve the same.

Source: WCYA(cze), 2020

Can you imagine starting a family in your current working conditions?

Source: WCYA(cze), 2020

Gender pay gap among architects in EU countries

Source: ACE, 2022

Gender pay gap among architects in EU

Source: ACE, 2022