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The New York Times: A Black Woman’s Rise in Architecture Shows How Far Is Left to Go

November 13, 2023
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Full article is posted in The New York Times and features contributions from Director of DC Operations, Kathryn Prigmore.

When Kimberly Dowdell becomes president of the American Institute of Architects next month, her ascent will be noteworthy. Ms. Dowdell, an architect in a profession that is overwhelmingly white and male, is a Black woman, the first to fill the post in the group’s 166-year history.

African Americans make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but only 1.8 percent of licensed architects in the country are Black, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Fewer than a quarter of the nearly 120,000 licensed architects in the United States are women, and not even one half of 1 percent of architects are Black women.

Black female architects are so few and far between, and obtaining licensure is such a point of pride among them, that many take pains to note their place in the chronology of advancement in the field — Ms. Dowdell, 40, said that in 2013, she became the 295th living Black woman to be licensed in the United States.

There are small signs of change: Nearly 3 percent of architects who received their license last year were Black, and 43 percent of new architects were women.

Black women have rooted one another on. Kathryn T. Prigmore, director of operations in Washington for Moody Nolan, a Black-owned firm, has organized presentations at conferences in which women share their stories of adversity and achievement.