Over the course of 2015, architecture practice Atelier Red+Black established a trial mentorship program for women in their final year of university studies. There were a few reasons for initiating this program – including a desire to give back to the profession and also pay forward the guidance we are receiving from our own mentors. Ultimately the purpose of the program was to address, even in a small way, a problem well articulated by Dr. Karen Burns on the Parlour website.


The Problem

“Approximately 40 percent of women architectural graduates are not entering or being retained long-term in the industry. Surprisingly women begin to leave very early, including straight after finishing university, where their industry participation rate is 1–2 percentage points lower than graduation numbers”

Dr. Karen Burns, Why do women leave?


The Objectives

  • Give the students a ‘real world’ understanding of the architecture profession.
  • Highlight the importance of registration and a longer term career strategy.
  • Facilitate an expansion of their professional network through events and social media.
  • Provide general support and advice during the transition from university student to practicing professional.


Program design

The program consists of three group sessions and three individual sessions. The topics covered in the 2 hour long group sessions are

  • Communication skills + Architecture community engagement
  • Introduction to the Planning + Building regulatory framework
  • Employment + Career planning + Registration

These sessions are complemented with three individual mentoring sessions, the final of which is a practice job interview.



Past Mentee Feedback

What were the most useful parts of the program?

Firstly, making us aware of how social media can benefit in engaging with the architecture profession and in growing one’s network. Secondly the practice interview and reviewing our CVs and folios. Finally the encouragement, motivation and time given by both mentors was extremely valuable.

Atelier Red+Black 2015 mentee


As an undergrad, I found the interview really helpful as it taught me how to approach interview questions with ease and confidence.

Atelier Red+Black 2015 mentee


You have not only enlightened me in what it takes to be an architect, but most importantly you have helped me discover myself. I remember during one of our group sessions, you asked us “Where do you see yourself 30 years from now?” it has struck me since then, and it made me aware of how oblivious I was on what I wanted to do afterwards.

Atelier Red+Black 2015 mentee


Progress of the program can be followed on Instagram at @preparingforpractice and at Twitter under the hashtag #ateliermentorship


Architecture is for Everyone