AIA Architect's Kim O' Connell and Kathleen O' Donnell say that for a profession with such a long history, architecture has evolved very slowly in one critical way. Although women and men now enroll in architecture school in roughly equal numbers, it’s still a vastly male-dominated profession, with women representing only about one in five licensed practitioners.

According to a 2015 AIA survey about diversity in the profession, 69% of women respondents felt that women were “somewhat underrepresented” or “very underrepresented” in the profession.

To understand what can be done to retain women and promote them as leaders, while benefiting firms in the process, we talked to four architects about barriers they have encountered and what they and others are doing to help women stay in architecture. Whether it was starting a firm, pursuing unique specialties, developing mentorship programs for emerging professionals or building volunteer networks, these women are making strides to advance the field.

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