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RTPI speaks up for women

21 May 2019

Sue Manns, RTPI Vice President and Prof. Aude Bicquelet-Lock, RTPI Deputy Head of Policy and Research, represented the Institute at the "Women and Planning in the UK" conference hosted by The Leeds Planning School, Leeds Beckett University, on 20/21 May. 

Imbalance of power needs to change

Sue Manns gave the keynote speech which opened the two-day conference in which she posed the question ‘Would our spaces and places be different if the scales of power were more evenly balanced?’. 

Citing Professor Clara Greed who said in 1994 that "research and human experience has demonstrated that women suffer disadvantage within a built environment that is developed primarily for other men", Sue Manns said that whilst progress had been made in terms of the numbers of women in the profession, all too often decisions on the built environment continue to be largely taken by men. 

As the 107th president of the Institute in 2020 and the Institute’s first Diversity and Inclusivity Champion, Sue will be leading efforts to promote a more balanced profession, not only in terms of ‘numbers’ but also in terms of roles and responsibilities.

"Top talent is all too often being lost as a result of the ‘glass ceiling’ and lack of support provided to women. The proportion of women reaching the highest levels of the profession is less than the proportion of women in Parliament," she said. 

Barriers to women planners shown in new study

Prof Bicquelet-Lock presented the findings of a qualitative study conducted by the RTPI which highlights many of the barriers to professional advancement experienced by women planners today, such as the dominance of a masculine culture in the workplace, lack of flexible hours, and lack of support before, during and after maternity leave.

Through capturing the experience of 52 respondents, the study provides deeper insight into the issues and will help the Institute formulate its Equality Diversity & Inclusivity Action Plan, which will be launched later in the year.

The two-day conference seeks to further develop the conversation around the need for diversity in the planning profession. 

If you are interested to get a copy of the RTPI study please contact Prof Bicquelet-Lock at