Women, migration and architecture: A postcolonial feminist analysis of the experiences of female migrant architects from the Commonwealth, living and working in the UK.
In the UK, architecture is a regulated profession. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA, a membership body) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB, a registration authority) are two important professional bodies that control the closure mechanism in the UK architectural profession. Diversity (such as gender and ethnicity) among architects is a paramount concern for professional bodies in the white and male-dominated UK architectural profession. UK architecture is lagging behind other regulated professions when it comes to gender and ethnic diversity. RIBA and ARB do not directly recognise any qualifications outside of the UK. The non-recognition of foreign architectural credentials can be seen as a significant barrier to labour-market integration among Commonwealth migrant architects in the UK. In short, despite RIBA recognising the value of diversity, there still exists a significant gender and ethnic imbalance in UK architecture.
This research aims to extend the existing literature on the professionalisation of architecture by examining the experiences of female migrant architects from the Commonwealth, living and working in the UK. Very little is known about their experiences from the previous literature, and no research has focused on the intersections of gender, ethnicity, and place of qualification in the architectural profession.
Adopting an intersectional framework merging postcolonial feminist theory with the literature on professionalisation and professional closure, this research addresses the question: What challenges do overseas-qualified female migrant architects experience professionally while gaining access to and working in the architectural profession in the UK? This research questions focus on the experiences of women in the architecture profession and thus require a qualitative approach in order to understand their interpretations. Individual in-depth interviews with female architects will be the main process of data collection.
The researcher's personal history becomes part of the process of the research and has significant implications for the research findings. My own position in relation to the women that I will interview will reflect a mixture of insider and outsider positions. I have some understanding of male-dominated architecture sectors as I am myself a female migrant architect qualified in India. However, I have no experience of working in the UK architecture sector nor of studying architecture in the UK. I am conscious of how this positions me as both an insider as well as an outsider, or as an outsider within, and the study will take a reflexive approach in keeping with its commitment to feminist epistemology and thus considering power dynamics between the researcher and the researched at different stages of inquiry.
1st Supervisor: Dr Patrizia Kokot-Blamey
2nd Supervisor: Professor Tessa Wright
Sreenita joined the PhD programme in 2019. She is attracted to the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED) as a hub for research on inequality at work. Her broad research interests are gender at work, occupational closure and migration-related issues.
Prior to joining the programme, she completed both her graduate degrees with distinction – Masters in Management from Queen Mary and Masters in Architecture from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – which outlines her commitment to academic excellence. She has also been a recipient of prestigious national and university-level scholarships. She is a registered architect (Council of Architecture, India).