The architectural design profession continues to grow, with more women pursuing licensure than ever before, according to data released today by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The licensing body is previewing the forthcoming release of its annual “By the Numbers” report with data detailing the latest demographics on the industry. The number of practitioners working toward licensure reached an all-time high in 2015 with more than 41,500 individuals either taking the Architect Registration Exam, reporting Architecture Experience Program (AXP, formerly IDP) hours, or both. That’s up from 37,178 in 2014—a record high at that time. And nearly 41,000 U.S. architects held an NCARB certificate for reciprocal licensure across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in 2015, up 4 percent from 2014.

Last year saw a greater percentage of women entering the profession. Nearly 40 percent each of those completing the AXP and ARE in 2015 were women. Additionally, more than two-thirds of newly licensed architects last year were women. Although the numbers are similar to those NCARB reported for 2014—38 percent of IDP completions in both 2014 and 2015 were women, while women accounted for 37 percent of ARE completions in 2015 and 35 percent in 2014—they follow the steady but incremental shift in the profession’s gender makeup since 2000 (and even earlier), when women made up 25 percent of IDP completions and an even smaller percentage of those completing the ARE. Meanwhile, in 2015, 34 percent of newly licensed architects were women; NCARB was unable to provide a comparative figure for 2014.

Still, more than two-thirds of women practitioners polled by the AIA for its March 2016 survey on perceptions of diversity in the profession reported a lack of gender equity, citing challenges concerning achieving work–life balance—in particular, the long working hours that can be incompatible with family life, and a lack of flexibility in work hours.

NCARB's news follows the release of the 2015 Survey of Architectural Registration Boards in May, which registered a slight increase—2 percent—in the number of practicing architects in the U.S. to 110,168 in 2015 from 2014.

NCARB plans to release the full 2016 "By the Numbers" report in July.