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Diversity in architecture has room for improvement in the education pipeline

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Recent data highlights opportunities to help bring more diverse graduates into the field

Percent of architecture students of color in each U.S. region.
Percent of architecture students of color in each U.S. region. Made with data from NAAB and
Architect Magazine

There’s no question that the U.S. architecture field has a diversity problem—but in case you need convincing, check out recent numbers from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). This is the organization that accredits architectural education programs, and its data demonstrates room for improvement in the country’s architecture school pipeline.

NAAB’s report on data from 2016 (PDF) shows that of the country’s 24,500 enrolled architecture students, 54 percent are male and 46 percent are female—this split doesn’t seem so bad, though growth in the proportion of female students has slowed in recent years. However, it’s a 1 percent increase in female students over 2015, and a 5 percent increase since 2009. Overall, a win.

The numbers on ethnicity are less rosy, showing little to no growth in the proportion of African-American and Latino students since 2009. According to the report, the majority of architecture students—42 percent—are white. The next-largest group—19 percent—is made of non-resident international students, which has increased from just 6 percent in 2009.

In terms of future improvements, the data highlights an opportunity in focusing on the relationship between the percentage of minority students and the average percentage of bachelor of architecture (B.Arch.) candidates who graduate on time. The idea is that in regions like the Gulf States and the West, where schools reported the lowest average on-time graduation rates and the highest percentage of minority students, there may be greater need for not only academic but also the emotional and physical support needed to help all students graduate.

Via: Architect Magazine, NAAB