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Women in Planning: a growing influence

By Mary Fortune, Chair of Women in Planning and Planning Consultant at Metropolis Planning & Design

For those of you reading this blog who aren’t aware of Women in Planning, we are the preeminent network for women in the profession, formed in 2012 by Alison Mackay and Charlotte Morphet. Since then, not only has our independent network grown exponentially in members and events but in influence too. We are proud to say that we are recognised by the RTPI, and that we have pushed the diversity agenda in planning for the last 5 years. We are also proud to be advocates of other diversity networks including Planning Out and Built by Both.

Women in Planning seeks to promote and encourage women to engage with other like-minded professional and academics in the profession and, over the past 5 years, we have accomplished this via our ‘Proud of Women’ event series. These events aimed to give a platform to women working in the planning sector and related industries. Presentations have ranged from details of personal career journeys to sharing tips and tricks on career development, while others have discussed the issues within the industry faced by women and how we could potentially overcome them. All presentations have been given with the aim of inspiring our members.   

My personal highlight was our ‘Women Paving the Way’ event, held in March 2015, where we celebrated the first time that the RTPI, RICS and RIBA have had female presidents at the same time. At the event we were able to reflect on the impact and significance of women taking on leadership roles in the built environment.

2016 was also another successful year for Women in Planning as Helen Hayes MP spoke at our first ever parliamentary reception. In the same year, we were invited to be involved in the ‘Women of the Word Festival’ at the London Southbank Centre. Our involvement in the festival allowed Women in Planning to broaden our audience to discuss the importance of diversity within the built environment.

In November 2016, we realised that we needed more help with the network and collectively decided to reach out to our 770 followers to engage in organising a Committee. Our newly formed committee includes women from all backgrounds including planning law, sustainability, transport planning and urban design - working in both public and private sectors.

2017 is set to be an even bigger year for us. We have already assisted the RTPI with their Guide to Working Internationally (and we would welcome international women working in planning to get involved too) and contributed to the production of The Planner’s International Women's Day edition. We have also signed up to Future of London’s Diversity Speakers Pledge and we will be helping to fulfil its aims at our events.

I am also delighted to see Charlotte Morphet in the Planner’s 2017 Women of Influence list and Alison Mackay’s article on why we needed the network featured in The Planner. In April, we are due to host our first breakfast CPD event on the Housing White Paper (kindly hosted by Dentons at their offices in London). Our confirmed speakers work in the private sector, public sector, and at a housing association in London. Thanks to Dentons providing us with such a generously large capacity space, we still have some places left for this free event. We welcome everyone who supports our cause in ensuring we have greater diversity within in planning, not just women.

Our focus this year will be on diversity and bringing more diverse speakers into the mix but also in our event offer. We are however planning to bring back the ever popular summer social and Christmas drinks as firm fixtures in our diaries.

Alongside this, we are working on widening our geographical focus, with links emerging in the North West, Scotland and Southampton. If you are interested in finding out more or would like to set up a branch of Women in Planning please get in touch with us!

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