At a panel discussion hosted by AIA|DC, Kimberly Dowdell, the president of NOMA, and William Bates, the president of the AIA, discussed their respective efforts at improving diversity and equity within the profession. It was my honor to attend and to cover the evening for Architectural Digest; an excerpt of that coverage is below.
Architects discussed the crucial steps toward building a more equitable profession, at a panel in Washington, D.C.
By Deane Madsen
It’s no secret that the architectural profession has a diversity problem. Of the AIA’s 94,000 members, just 2,270 are African American, and of those, 452 are women, according to data from the Directory of African American Architects. And, for now at least, the future doesn’t seem to be looking much brighter: Only five percent of students enrolled in architecture programs are African American, according to demographic data compiled by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
Last night, a group of architects, advocates, and curators assembled at the Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to unpack and address some of these concerns. At an evening event titled “Embracing Our Differences, Changing the World,” AIA President William Bates and National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) President Kimberly Dowdell discussed equity, diversity, and inclusion with Michelle Joan Wilkinson, a curator of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, before a packed house. “It’s not a secret that architecture as a profession has fallen behind,” Bates conceded, adding that the percentage of black students in architecture programs is “not that different from what it was 50 years ago.”
Seizing upon guidelines for diversity and inclusion that the AIA released earlier this year, the speakers reflected upon the urgent need for more equitable representation in the profession.