Women in Planning Committee Chair: Jennifer Shih
The Women in Planning Committee’s mission is to enhance the impact women have on the planned environment by promoting mutual support and professional development. Our activities will:
- Strengthen collaboration among women in different areas of planning;
- Increase the awareness/recognition of positive contributions of women’s leadership in planning and public service;
- Provide a mentoring atmosphere for women of all ages working in planning;
- Explore planning related topics through a variety of mediums and formats.
History of WIP
Robin A. Scholetzky founded Women in Planning in 1999 when she was a planning student at the University of Oregon. The group began as an independent committee with Robin acting as the organizational leader and support staff member. In 2001, the committee joined with the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association (OAPA) as one of its affiliated committees. Since then, WIP has held numerous events and maintained a listserve.
In the spring of 2002 a small group of active WIP members met twice to discuss the group’s mission, refine the purpose for the organization and to strategize about the types of sponsored events. These meetings resulted in a revised mission statement and the “Core Group” taking more responsibility in organizing events. Events have included guest speakers informing attendees of topical or timely issues, a site visit to a newly acquired Metro “greenspace,” and two affordable housing forums.
The Women in Planning Committee has forged new territory within Oregon’s planning world. Before 1999, no such network existed. Indeed, many members agree that WIP serves the important function of connecting and supporting women in all areas of the profession. In that sense, the committee has developed a substantial repertoire of well-attended events, a much needed and well used email listserve, and an established role within OAPA, Oregon’s oldest and most influential planning professional organization. Among WIP’s most significant successes are success in leadership and high levels of interest from a diverse range of planners in Oregon.
Through its 5-year history, WIP has established itself as a relevant committee with dedicated leadership and a supportive core group. In addition, the committee has built upon a previously unmet need, promoted itself as a valuable professional community for women planners, and attracted participation from planners all over the state. This foundation not only ensures the continued success of the committee, but will also allow the committee to refine its role within the planning profession. To that end, the following proposals are intended to do just that; build upon existing strengths and set realistic goals for the committee’s future.
Expand and solidify membership base through the Listserve. WIP is poised to take advantage of technology to overcome the geographic challenges that come with being a statewide committee. The WIP listserve uses the yahoogroups service to connect planners from all over Oregon. Although we will avoid overwhelming members with listserve material, the listserve can act as an information and support clearinghouse for women planners all over Oregon. Some goals and potential activities for the listserve include the following:
Actively support members who may not be able to attend quarterly events and meetings. WIP faces the challenge of providing a service to all members, even those who may not be able to attend regular events held in the Willamette Valley. WIP can encourage and coordinate events that do not depend on one meeting time and place. Some examples of such events include:
- Shadow days only require schedule and time coordination between two or three people.
- Private sector/public sector/non profit professionals can benefit from illuminating experiences while shadowing a fellow professional for a day, a morning, or even a public meeting.
- Students and professionals can participate in exchange shadow days
- Participants can record their observations and report back to other members (the WIP Chair can help coordinate that exchange of information)
- Mentoring exists on a wide spectrum that includes structured programs and informal relationships. Research shows that less structured mentoring programs are the most effective. But ultimately, it is helpful for mentoring relationships to be established and maintained by those participating in them.
- WIP Chair can help coordinate/introduce all types of mentoring, depending on interest within the membership.
- Focus on students as well as young professionals.
- WIP Chairperson can gather materials about mentoring and mentoring activities to help focus those interested in establishing a mentoring relationship.
- Students, young planners, and established professionals (can be a simpler form of “shadow days”)
- Reach out to planners who are not located in the Metro area by encouraging gatherings and/or meetings outside the Metro area. Planners around the state can get together for informal lunch/coffee/beer/potluck etc events. Planners can host a two or three hour lunch event at their place of employment where they can share information about specific issues facing that community or projects. Activities can include a short meeting with WIP members, tours of the town, site, office, etc. Private sector planners can give presentations on specific projects or take tours of significant sites etc.