Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Architecture Licensing
In 2020, NCARB and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) launched a joint study to identify how minority professionals experience obstacles on the path to licensure. Since then, NCARB and NOMA have released four in-depth reports on findings from the study, which highlight areas where our organizations can provide additional support, conduct deeper research, and propose measurable solutions to address disparities. They have also released an action plan with next steps to address the disparities in the months and years ahead.
Throughout the Baseline on Belonging study, NCARB and NOMA have seen three overarching themes in the findings:
First, the study’s findings highlight the impact of intersectionality: Individuals who identified as part of multiple underrepresented groups faced higher levels of disparity on the path to licensure. For example, women of color were more likely to report impediments at nearly every early career stage compared to their peers.
Second, disparities built upon each other throughout early career stages. Some of the gaps apparent in the data may seem small at first glance, but small disparities compounded throughout the study to create significant impediments, especially when individuals indicated they faced small disparities at nearly every stage of their careers.
And third, age has a significant impact—especially on experience and examination progress. While NCARB and NOMA did not initially plan to explore the impact of age on candidates’ licensure progress, the study clearly showed that candidates who were 40 or older were far less likely to receive firm support toward their licensure goals.
NCARB and NOMA have created an action plan, with solutions addressing the various impediments and disparities highlighted by the study. This includes actions like retiring the Architect Registration Examination’s® (ARE®) five-year rolling clock policy, which NCARB’s Board of Directors replaced with a new score validity policy in April 2023 following feedback from the Baseline on Belonging study and in-depth psychometric review. Many of the additional action items noted are already in progress, such as exploring more accessible pathways to licensure. NCARB and NOMA will continue providing updates on these items in the years ahead.
The reports include:
- Baseline on Belonging: Experience Report: Explores support, impediments, and barriers candidates encounter while completing the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®). You can also read a summary version of the experience report.
- Baseline on Belonging: Examination Report: Highlights various areas and degrees of disparity related to completing the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). You can also read a summary version of the examination report.
- Baseline on Belonging: Education Report: Highlights impediments related to earning a degree in architecture. You can also read a summary version of the education report.
- Baseline on Belonging: Firm Culture & Career Development Report: Explores how firm culture impacts the career development of underrepresented individuals in the architecture profession. You can also read a summary version of the firm culture report.
- Baseline on Belonging: Compiled Report & Action Plan: Includes findings from the previous reports, as well as a plan of action to address the impediments seen in the study. Also includes highlights by demographic and an overview of findings for respondents who identified as Native American or Pacific Islander.
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