The Missing 32%

The Missing 32% project was discovered by AIA (American Institute of Architects) San Francisco’s Equity by Design (EQxD) committee.  The committee reported on its Equity in Architecture Survey following its Equity by Design Hackathon Workshop at the annual AIA convention. The survey was first issued in 2014 and has been redefined and further developed over time. Rosa T. Sheng is the founder of Equity by Design and “The Missing 32% Project.”


In the United States, women represent less than 50% of students graduating from accredited architecture programs. The number of women who are AIA members, licensed architects and senior leadership varies between 15% to 18% of the total. These statistics beg the question, ‘where are the missing 32%?’ The challenge of losing the large pool of architectural talent remains a constant in the industry. The initial statistic and many supporting factors have spawned discussion about women’s representation and participation in the future of the industry.


The Missing 32% project is an organization formed out of annual Missing 32% Symposiums and the desire for a sustained discussion about equity in architectural practice. The goal of the group is to change the status quo in the architectural industry. The group advances research on the subject and publishes best practices to create an environment of peer-to-peer accountability and change among firms nationally while preserving and attracting the field’s best talent. Sheng insists that Equity by Design does not attempt to blame, but to change the industry.


As the leader of the movement, Sheng strives for impacting change, not identifying fault. All too often, discussions of equity turn into a blame game. Sheng astutely points out that “equity is everyone’s problem, and a fault of the industry, not of one gender over the other.”


For more information on Equity by Design and The Missing 32%, visit

Katie Craven
Katie Craven is Marketing, Communication and Brand Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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