APA's Women and Planning Division has committed to the goal of inducting women into the AICP College of Fellows at the same rates as men by the year 2040.
Currently, the college is made up of 636 inductees, and just 142 of them (22 percent) are women. To reach this goal, each induction class moving forward must consist of significantly more women than men.
We have a long way to go!
In celebration of Women's History Month, the Division sponsored a webinar, "Women in Planning: The Road to FAICP," to promote the inclusion of women into the college. When I was asked to share my own FAICP story as part of the webinar, I began to reflect on my personal journey, and what I might be able to offer other planners, as a woman fellow.
My own FAICP journey started in 2007, when I realized that my home state of Illinois had zero women FAICPs — despite having a very strong planning tradition. This really bothered me! I looked around and I did not see any other women poised to step up for the Class of 2008. My confidence as a planning leader had grown during my service as chair of the Women and Planning Division, so I decided to put myself forward.
I had tremendous support from my mentors and colleagues.
The talented planners on the Illinois Chapter Board gave me the tough love I needed to shape my application. My chapter-assigned mentor Michael Blue, FAICP, helped me understand my career in terms of not just what I had accomplished, but about how I had made a meaningful difference to the communities where I worked. He helped me see that my work could serve as a model for other planners.
It was a difficult but rewarding application process. Chapter President Karen Stonehouse, AICP, was a tough and relentless editor, who helped me shape and improve the application into a coherent whole. Reaching out to mentors and teachers of my past to obtain letters of support allowed me to reconnect with my personal heroes, and thank them for all they had taught me.
In fact, the application process was such a meaningful experience that being inducted into the 2008 class at the National Planning Conference in Las Vegas almost felt like an afterthought — albeit a thrilling one.
That year, just six of the 49 inductees (12 percent) were women. We were still a small minority in need of greater recognition, and I was inspired to bring more women into the fold. I pledged to serve as a mentor and guide to others, especially women, to pursue this very important distinction.
And I have done just that. In the five cycles since I was elected into the college, I have personally mentored 10 nominees, often on behalf of the Women and Planning Division. I have also written letters of support for several nominees, and each experience has involved hard work and self-discovery for everyone involved.
It has been incredibly gratifying and inspiring to mentor and guide these candidates through their process.
In 2019, we are making real progress. The percentage of women in the college has continued to grow, from 12 percent in that small class from 2008 to 42 percent for the class of 2018. This is a huge step forward, but there is far more distance to travel.
In fact, there are still 14 APA chapters who have no women FAICP members. Let's change this by working together to elect more women into the College! So, as we prepare for the 2020 Class, look around you (or in the mirror) and nudge the talented and eligible women you know to take this important step.
Top image: Elizabeth "Libby" Tyler, FAICP, at her induction into the AICP College of Fellows in 2008. APA photo.
About the Author
Elizabeth Tyler, PhD, FAICP
Elizabeth "Libby" Tyler is a planning consultant in Albany, California. She is the vice chair of APA's Diversity Committee and the ethics review director for the Northern Section of APA's California Chapter.