The year 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Whitney M. Young Jr’s keynote speech at the 1968 AIA National Convention, giving our profession an opportunity to reflect on where we stand today. Understanding our progress, and whether or not we have lived up to Young’s challenge, begins with understanding representation in our profession.
According to 2015 estimates from the US Census Bureau, 38 percent of the US population identifies as either non-white or Hispanic. However, 90 percent of NCARB Certificate holders, those who are eligible for licensure, across the US are white. Of the remaining 10 percent, 5 percent identify as Asian/Not Hispanic or Latino and 2 percent identify as Black or African American/Not Hispanic or Latino. Only 19 percent of NCARB Certificate holders are women. Numbers for new architects are slightly better, perhaps reflecting progress: 34 percent of new Certificate holders are women, while 15 percent identified as non-white.
While national data exists, the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which fosters dialogues and gives agency to issues of diversity, inclusion, and representation, determined that demographic information for New York City was necessary to properly address issues at a local scale. New York is famed for being a diverse, multicultural city; it also boasts the largest number of AIA members nationwide. However, there is no benchmark demographic data for professionals within the New York metro community. To address this gap, the committee launched the 2017 AIANY Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Member Survey, a research initiative funded by an AIANY Committee Excellence grant. The aim of the survey was to quantify current representation in the chapter, to capture certain perceptions about equity in the profession, and to build on existing local, state and national efforts. Survey questions were developed by the D&I Committee after reviewing similar surveys and assessing gaps in information.