On Friday, the world celebrated International Women’s Day, recognising the contributions that women make to society, the economy, politics and culture. The heritage sector is no exception to the challenges of achieving gender parity and inclusivity, something which the Women in Planning network aims to address.

A recent survey by the network found that women fill only 17% of leadership positions in private sector planning consultancy in the UK, while from a global perspective, a UNESCO report in 2014 revealed an urgent need for research and awareness around equal rights and opportunities in the fields of heritage and creativity worldwide.

Lucy Marston, one of our Principal Heritage Consultants based in our Sheffield office, attended the newly-launched Women in Planning Yorkshire’s event on Friday for International Women’s Day, which centred around ‘Advice for my Younger Self’.

Hosted by Cushman & Wakefield, the event brought together female leaders in the planning sector to discuss advice that they would offer their younger selves and others embarking on a career in the industry, by looking back at their own careers and experiences. Speakers included Sarah Carr, Director at Redrow Homes, Alison Ogley, Partner at Walker Morris LLP, Marianne McCallum, Director at WYG Group, Jenny Purple, Land Manager at Avant Homes and Tamsin Hart-Jones, Manager at Homes England.

It was interesting, and to some degree comforting, to hear that the challenges overcome by women in the industry to achieve their career goals are so comparable with those experienced by myself,” said Lucy. “I’m inspired by the strong examples of leadership I see around me, both at Wessex Archaeology and in the wider sector at events like this one. The advice provided was useful, especially around being persistent in going for what you want and having the confidence in yourself to take risks and challenge perceptions.

At Wessex Archaeology, we are proud that our overall workforce is 48% female and 57% of our Consultancy team is female; something that few other organisations can boast. We champion the achievements of our female staff and the part they play inside and outside our organisation, with women in all fields and at all levels. 

By Abby Bryant, Consultancy Director