Skip to main content

Turesky, Marisa and Warner, Mildred E. (2020). “Gender Dynamics in the Planning Workplace: The Importance of Women in Management,” Journal of the American Planning Association, 86(2): 157-170. DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2019.1691041

Problem - Planners’ workplaces are diversifying with respect to gender, but office culture and policies do not always reflect such change. This research explores the influence of gender, management and organizational characteristics on planners’ perceptions of workplace culture and benefits.

Research strategy - We conducted a national survey with the American Planning Association’s Women and Planning Division in 2015 to assess whether planners’ perceptions regarding workplace culture and benefits differ by gender and organizational characteristics of the planning office. A limitation of the survey is the small self-selected sample of mostly female respondents.  We combine feminist planning theory with workplace management theories of Role Congruity, Expectation States, Representative Bureaucracy, and Transformational Leadership to explain workplace dynamics in planning agencies.

Findings: Qualitative analysis shows problems with exclusive communication and equal opportunity are linked to management characteristics. To test this, we build five regression models on gender respect, exclusive communication, work-life benefits, flexibility perception and equal opportunity in pay and advancement.  Regression models control for gender, age and experience of respondent, and organizational characteristics (gender balance in staff and management, metro status, public or private planning agency). Results indicate that gender respect, work-life benefits, and flexibility perception do not differ by gender. However, women were less likely to feel heard in their workplace (exclusive communication) or perceive equal opportunity. Workplaces with female management were more likely to show sensitivity to gender issues, support for flexible benefits and equal opportunity for pay and advancement.  

Takeaway for Practice: These results suggest planners feel they can raise gender issues and access flexibility benefits without prejudice. But planning workplaces need to address problems with exclusive communication and women’s perceptions of lack of equal opportunities for pay and advancement. Introducing gender-inclusive planning and leadership development curriculum to planning programs would prepare future planners, while ongoing training for management may improve behavior, communication, and benefits for all genders in planning workplaces.

Download publication

Subject: Gender,Planning