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City Planning Department Celebrates Women's Equality Day!

*CUE* Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World – Girls’

Imagine walking into your office on a Monday. You look to your left, you look to your right, and all of your colleagues are men. 

No, this isn’t an episode of The Twilight Zone, however for many women working in the field of urban and regional planning this is an everyday reality.

So, how can we imagine an innovative and immersive city if diverse voices aren’t heard – or asked to even take a seat at the table? That’s where the City of Los Angeles steps in.


Here in LA, the City Planning Department has made concerted efforts to hire and train employees to create a more accessible and equitable city. From the Deputy Director of Planning to our Graphics team and everyone in between, women have played a vital role in shaping our City.

Now I’m sure you’re asking yourself, well, how many women are actually working at City Planning.  
Check the stats:
  • 58% of our Employees are women.
  • 57% of Planners are women.
  • 58% of Supervisorial Roles are held by women.
These numbers are awesome, and I’m sure you're wondering: how did they even get interested in this career and where do we go/grow from here?  Especially since it’s a field that prevented women from even being licensed architects until 1972 (in some cases). 

Lisa Webber, Deputy Director of Planning started her planning career more than 20 years ago, and
to this day she is at times the only woman in the room. Upon starting with the City of Los Angeles six years ago, there was only one female manager in the Project Planning Bureau. Since then, Deputy Director Webber has had the opportunity to create new managerial positions, helping facilitate opportunities for women to advance into leadership roles. This dedication to inclusion has resulted in the promotion and hiring of 12 women into managerial positions in the Project Planning division. 

This is great for those who are currently working in the planning profession. It shows that times are changing and perspectives are shifting to be more inclusive of diverse perspectives. But how do we get more women interested in the profession? Sometimes, it starts with mentorship. 

This past summer, the Department had an opportunity to work with interns from across the country including Violeta Alvarez, a senior at Mount Holyoke College. With 52% of Urban Studies graduate students in 2016 being women, now is the perfect time for Violeta and others to explore this career.

During her time with City Planning, Violeta was mentored by planners who were able to share with her career insights and provide a pipeline to other contacts who she could speak to about her goals.  Working alongside pioneers in the field of planning has helped her understand the history of disparities in cities and the importance of working towards equity. 

And it doesn’t stop here!

By having these unique and varied voices as part of the conversation, we improve the way we interact with our built environment. To create a better future, we have to have women of all backgrounds at the table.

Women are hungry to serve and provide their perspective on public service. We’re no longer asking for a seat at the table, we’re showing up and bringing along other competent women with us.
Visit our Facebook page to see more from some of the women in City Planning. We’re all working to making #Planning4LA the best it can be.


Source: 
1. https://nextcity.org/features/view/urban-planning-sexism-problem
2. % includes  (this includes PAs, CPAs, CPs, SCPs, Principals, Directors, AZAs, 1 Architect, 1 Architectural Associate, and 1 Environmental Specialist

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