Diversity Matters

Diversity in architecture can be achieved, Sharon Sutton, PhD, FAIA, told 2006 Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference attendees in her February 9 keynote address. But despite many steps forward, she said it is clear that the profession and the society that it serves have not realized that potential. “Only through a candid and honest examination of the structural inequities embedded in our past and present can we move toward a brighter and more inclusive future,” Sutton said. “Our 150-year celebration demands no less than a fundamental metamorphosis.”

Culling evidence from four recent research studies, Sutton said, “In a nutshell, the field has made insufficient progress on diversity, has a white macho culture framed by educational experiences, engages in discriminatory employment practices, suffers from a glass-ceiling phenomenon and attrition, and socially isolates underrepresented individuals.” Sutton challenged the audience: “What is the relevance of these findings? Why should you as leaders in architecture who have spent your day hobnobbing with important politicians worry about these problems?”

Sutton had a ready answer: “Diversity in architecture is not only an ethical imperative, it is vital to the continued creativity, competitiveness, and survival of the field.”


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