Town Planning Review

Women planners: 1996 revisited

Town Planning Review Ahead of print, 1–18.


This article contributes to the history of women in planning and to an understanding of the issues facing the advancement of women planners in the workplace during the 1990s in the UK. The main part of the article revisits the contributions made by participants during the 1996 National Women’s Planning Conference in Leeds, UK, entitled Women Planners into the 21st Century. The event attracted delegates from around the UK and during the conference a series of activities enabled participants to record their experiences. This article takes a fresh look at this material using a lens from a similar conference held at Leeds Beckett University in 2019. The rapid thematic analysis found that the issues facing women in the 1990s in the UK were similar to those facing women planners in the US, Canada and Australia. The expectations and barriers faced by women planners in 1996 varied depending on career life stages and whether or not women had children, were single parents or were caring for a child who was physically or mentally disabled. A key conclusion is that structural and cultural barriers still predominate in organisations. The implications for professional bodies such as the RTPI are that they must do more to support women and men to bring about long-lasting change.

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Author details

Reeves, Dory