AA architects: the numbers 2016


For this year’s review of the number of African-American architects, I asked Dennis Mann, one of Administrators of the Directory of African American Architects to write about the trends he is seeing.

In the last two years, the Directory of African American Architects listed 119 newly licensed architects. That may not sound significant. However, this is double the 2013-14 total of 67 newly licensed. More importantly, what was unique about that number is that 51 of those listed were women. That amounts to 43%.

When I retired from teaching at the University of Cincinnati in 2009, it was normal to find that 50% of architecture students were women. I believe that is rather typical today.1 Moreover at UC, more often than not the top students in their class was a woman.

The chart below is a summary of the last ten years of those added to the Directory. (Note that some added had been licensed earlier but added to the Directory in the year shown). I’ve only begun to keep a separate list since 2013.


In the last eleven years, 199 women have been added. This is more than the total of all women from the late 1940’s to 2000.

More and more, women architects now own their own firm or hold principal positions in majority firms. Students today know the work of Zaha Hadid, Jeanne Gang, Denise Scott Brown, and Norma Sklarek among a growing number of others. Most architecture faculties are no longer made up of all males and the one lone women. Faculties are far more diverse than they have ever been.

So, will we eventually begin to see women architects reach a number where they become a “critical mass?” This would mean that there are enough women architects to have a much larger impact on the field than in the past. Certainly young African American High School females, especially those in larger metropolitan areas, can now find mentors of their own gender to guide them.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

1. NAAB reported that women were 45% of the enrollment of all degree programs in 2015. (source: NAAB 2015 Annual Report)

Previous annual posts:

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

2 Responses to “AA architects: the numbers 2016”

  1. I think this information is interesting. When you look at it in terms of the recession years, The peak period coincides with the peak of the recession. As the recession wanes, so does the number of newly licensed. Since I have been through several recessions in my career I have noticed this trend among all architects. We need to keep people engaged to be licensed even when times are good.

    • Yes, Kathleen I agree. People sometimes get comfortable in the good times and aren’t as diligent about taking steps to needed keep progressing in their career paths.