The ASLA ramps up support of BIPOC women pursuing landscape architecture with a new program

Clearing the Path

The ASLA ramps up support of BIPOC women pursuing landscape architecture with a new program

Landscape at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn by EKLA, PLLC, a M&WBE/DBE open space management firm led by landscape architect Elizabeth J. Kennedy, ASLA, NYCOBA-NOMA. (Epicgenius/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0)

The ASLA Fund, the charitable foundation of the American Society of Landscape Architects, has launched an initiative to address systemic inequities in the profession while bolstering women from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds pursuing landscape architecture licensure. As noted in a news release announcing the Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program, only 7 percent of licensed landscape architects are non-white and 30 percent are women per Council Record data from the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Board (CLARB).

In its inaugural year, the program will provide 10 BIPOC women with a two-year “personalized experience” that includes $3,500 to cover the cost of all four sections of the Landscape Architectural Registration Exam (LARE) along with prep courses, relevant resources, and mentorship from a licensed landscape architect. The application period ends on April 1, 2022.

“The statistics are telling, and it is important we make major strides to ensure the makeup of the profession closely mirrors the communities they serve,” said ASLA president Eugenia Martin, FASLA, in a statement. “We need to address these gaps, and women of color achieving licensure is a part of the solution.”

Data pulled from the last United States Census compared to the racial and ethnic composition of the ASLA’s own membership paints an equally stark picture. As detailed in the announcement, roughly 18.5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, while 6 percent of ASLA members do. About 13.4 percent of the population identifies as African American, but only 2.14 percent of ASLA members do. Residents identifying as American Indian or as an Alaskan Native comprise 1.3 percent of the U.S. population, while only 0.45 percent of ASLA members identify as such. And while 6.3 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Asian and Pacific Islander, just 13.5 percent of ASLA members do. (The ASLA doesn’t separate Asian from Asian American and Pacific Islander members in its data.)

Currently, the 123-year-old ASLA represents more than 15,000 members.

Noting the existing barriers, including financial ones, experienced by those seeking to become licensed landscape architects, the ASLA makes clear that it “believes licensure is vital to protecting public health, safety, and welfare,” while signifying a “level of professional competency” that can “lead to greater career and business success.”

In addition to identifying as a woman and being a person of color to qualify for the program, applicants must be a current ASLA member in good standing (or eligible for membership) and be eligible to sit for the LARE in the state where they are seeking licensure. Several expectations for applicants accepted into the program have also been established including participating in a post-program evaluation. Applications will be reviewed by the program’s inaugural Selection Committee.

More information on the application process can be found here.