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IWD: Young planner interview - Jay Skinner

What do young planners think about International Women's Day and equality in the workplace? The RTPI's policy and networks adviser Katherine Pollard asked Jay Skinner, a graduate planner with Fife Council

Name: Jay Skinner (JS)

Job title: Graduate planner

Employer: Fife Council

Years working in planning: 1.5

"I believe that there is less of a gap for those starting out in planning now. However, there does appear to be a slight gap in terms of more experienced roles with reference to the private sector. My interactions with the private sector seem to show the majority of senior roles occupied by men.

I believe that there shouldn’t be any form of gender gap. If you have the relevant skills and experience to carry out a role or task then nothing else should matter as far as I’m concerned. From my own experience, there have been equal opportunities regardless of gender, sexuality or race in my workplaces to present. All my post university and planning based jobs have had both males and females in a variety of positions from graduate planner to head of planning. The proof in terms of women occupying senior positions seems to point towards well practiced equality. My APC mentor is a female planner within the priority team who I look to for advice and guidance. My current head of planning is also a woman and has supported me on numerous occasions.

"To create successful teams can only be achieved through inclusive and equal approaches"

There shouldn't be any barriers based on gender, race or sexuality when it comes to pursuing and occupying leadership roles in planning. To create successful teams can only be achieved through inclusive and equal approaches. I believe that the number of ‘open to all’ opportunities in planning is on the rise. The only real issue I have faced is dealing with the ‘graduate’ tag as it still seems to bring with it uncertainty from certain quarters.

The RTPI does champion gender equality and diversity through its code of conduct and range of events and research. More engagement at all levels would help to address issues - this would have to be focused in the workplace in conjunction with bodies such as the RTPI and the Planning Advisory Service.

Continuing to promote planning as a profession to those in primary, secondary and higher education would be a good way to broaden intake and pique interest from an early stage. The RTPI are active in this area - however, perhaps employers could make continued efforts to attend carers conventions and related talks. From my own experience there seems to be a general uncertainty surrounding ‘the day job’ and as a result it may be harder to attract all people to the profession. To address this I believe more can be done in terms of promoting the work done by planners in general and the RTPI."