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The Harvey Richmond team attended the if Women Built Cities Young Women’s Workshop in Bristol on Monday night. Young women from across the city are invited to an interactive panel discussion and networking event to debate how different cities would be if women built them. The event – which features speakers including Cllr Nicola Beech (Bristol City Council), Sian Norris (Bristol Women’s Literature Festival, pictured), Louise Ponting (EY UK), Christine Skaar (Women in Property SW) and George Taylor (Arup).

Building site - woman in front of cranes

The evening

The event had over 80 attendees and was a valuable opportunity to discuss current topics that influence the current built environment industry and network with other attendees for the SW Women in Property Group.

The event was filmed by UWE and the topic will filter into the next SW Women in Property Group event. The panel discussed various topics (refer to the below) it was an opportunity to reflect on the challenges women face in the built environment working within the industry and reflect on what positive aspects women can provide to improve cities such as Bristol.

After some of the discussions, we broke into various groups to discuss current areas of Bristol such as Broadmead, Carriage Works Redcliffe Quarter and The Royal Mail Sorting Office Building to give feedback on what they would do to improve the areas.

How different would Cities be if women built them?

George: More inclusive in terms of public spaces

Christine: Focus on details – women are more spatially aware of the demographics and influence small changes.

Louise: From previous 1950’s culture society has changed the balance between work life balance, maybe this has been due to a more female influence.

Nicola: Challenge is that women are the minority in the construction industry. Women are excluded from the thought processes of implementing ideas for use of public space such as toilets, pavements.

Christine: Women have more common sense which can be reflected in aspects of implementing design.

The panel went on discuss the challenges that women face in cities;

Louise: We need to think about spaces that feed into one another, such as the Royal Mail Sorting Room development and linking that to the paintworks.

Nicola: The City Centre has a phenomenal amount of vacant buildings, this could change if we implanted night time economy such as Bars and Restaurants being used.

Christine: There is a real need to push start-up businesses and enterprises in the cities to tackle unoccupied spaces.

How do you see gentrification affecting Bristol?

Nicola: Its comes with its challenges – poor economic areas it needs to keep essential services open but encourages new developments.

Christine: Understanding that the cities have various areas and working to improve them for all, we need to make allowances for affordable housing.

Sian: With the huge increasing numbers of Homelessness it is important to develop but the new developments need to factor in tackling homelessness in regard to residential buildings.

How can we encourage more women to opt for a career within industries such as Construction / Architecture?

Louise: It’s not just a gender issue anymore, we need to use the voice of the younger generation to implement the change.

George: Raising Awareness

Sian & Christine: Finding women in the industry and contact them in order to grow your network. Provide mentoring going into Schools to talk about options for different roles within the industry that are out there.

The Harvey Richmond team developed new contacts and an appreciation of issues affecting women in Construction. The Harvey Richmond team learned about the wider issues in property in terms of redevelopment and how to engage and promote the industry as a chosen career path for the younger generation