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Fighting Sexual Harassment in the Architecture Field


Sexual harassment is unfortunately a common practice in the professional world. Women in distinguished careers are often harassed by men, especially in male-driven industries such as architecture. The #MeToo movement encouraged women to speak up about the mistreatment they have faced. In 2017, this led movie stars to speak out against famous movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Earlier this year, he was charged with rape and is now in prison.

Architects are following suit. Five women have accused Richard Meier – known for creating modern buildings such as the Getty Center – of sexual harassment. The New York Times published a story about him in 2018. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) – which represents 94,000 architects – did not punish Meier or even address his indiscretions. However, the organization did issue a statement:

“Architects stand together to reject sexual harassment. Architects stand together to support those who are threatened or abused. Architects stand together to build a model profession that welcomes everyone to safe, healthy, and equitable workplaces.”

Frances Halsband – one of the most accomplished architects in New York – was not impressed with the way the AIA handled the situation. As a woman, she was frustrated with the situation, and so were her colleagues. The generic statements were not enough.

So in May 2018, Halsband circulated a petition asking architects to create a “professional environment of mutual respect, free of discriminatory, intimidating, abusive, or harassing behavior, for all members of our professional community.” She sent the petition, which she called “Fellowship is Leadership,” to several friends and colleagues. She had quickly collected nearly 600 signatures.

She took her petition to the AIA. She also submitted a resolution to amend the AIA Code of Ethics. The resolution required members of the AIA to treat all everyone equally and explicitly prohibited sexual harassment and abuse in the architecture community. After much debate, the resolution passed, but will it change anything?

Instead of using negativity, the AIA is affirming good behavior as a way to stop sexual harassment. By using positive reinforcement to address sexual harassment and discrimination, the organization is claiming that companies can work better when they treat people equally. And it’s true – when people feel comfortable, they can do their best work.

Anti-harassment policies are hard to enforce in the AIA, though. This is due to the fact that the national AIA organization has more than 200 local chapters. Each serves as its own separate legal entities, so they all have their own rules and policies.

Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Architect Licensing Lawyer

The #MeToo movement is primarily associated with the entertainment industry, but it could apply to pretty much any situation and field. In a male-dominated industry such as architecture, a woman can face sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment and other ethical issues can lead to license loss and other forms of punishment. Protect your license and livelihood with help from Tampa architect licensing lawyer David P. Rankin. Call (813) 968-6633 or fill out the online form to schedule a consultation.