In the last year we have seen more exposure to strong global movements for gender equality across various professions, with the launch of #MeToo and #TimesUp we have witnessed how powerful women can be when they come together to be heard. In similar spirit this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is also focusing on the issue of gender parity, motivating us all to #PressforProgress in our chosen professions. So, there is no doubt that this year’s IWD will continue to be an important one!
That’s not to say the planning profession, hasn’t pushed for gender parity up until now. The current Chief Executive Trudi Elliot has made this her mission through out her leadership of the Institute. Even still within the Institute, women only make up approximately 38% of the total membership. More generally, women are becoming increasingly prominent in planning and, better still, more women are in senior positions within the profession and talent is being retained.
However gender parity can, and should, go further.
Case in point: the 2017 membership survey conducted by the Institute revealed that one-in-four women see gender inequality as a barrier to their professional development or their career progression. Greater numbers of women in planning means nothing if they cannot be supported to develop and progress in their careers, whether those are senior leadership roles or just getting more responsibility at work. This is why the North West Branch’s next event is so important as it focuses on “Planning your Career” and providing support to women working in the planning profession.
We must to continue to identify and remove the barriers that women face, especially in our profession. Alongside that, we should continue to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in planning. In turn, women’s visibility and prominence will rise even further – truly levelling the playing field.
We can only achieve that through embedding inclusion and equality of opportunity into everything we do; planning and the built environment will benefit as a result.
This is something that Women in Planning is striving for. Our Proud of Women series has been the first step on our journey to improving the visibility and prominence of women within our profession. Moving forwards our latest series, When Women Plan London, will highlight the women’s achievements in planning, as well as focusing on how women have been instrumental in helping shape the city in which we live.
Women in Planning are also proud to say we are involved with three IWD events, two of which are in London and the third being Manchester expanding our visibility within planning.
Urbanist at Future Cities Catapult and member of the Women in Planning London Committee.