In 1922 the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (‘RICS’) admitted Irene Barclay as the first woman chartered surveyor in Britain; it is perhaps no coincidence that ... read on
In 1922 the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (‘RICS’) admitted Irene Barclay as the first woman chartered surveyor in Britain; it is perhaps no coincidence that Irene’s achievement followed the passage of the Sex Disqualification Removal Act of 1919. Irene was closely followed by Evelyn Perry who qualified in 1923, and they went on to form their own partnership, Barclay and Perry Chartered Surveyors. Their female-led firm was ground-breaking in a male dominated profession, not least in their work in the provision of social housing. They helped to establish several housing associations, contributed to the building of nearly 1,000 homes, and most famously, helped to improve living conditions in the slums of St Pancras.
Despite such impressive role models from 100 years ago, the small number of women coming into surveying is a concern. The surveying profession compares unfavourably with some other professions in terms of the number of women members (read latest RICS report here). According to a 2020 Report provided by the Bar, women constituted 38.2 per cent of its membership. Interestingly, women make-up of 50.2 per cent of the UK working age population.
In 2014 the RICS launched 'Surveying the Future’ when Louise Brooke-Smith, the RICS's first female President, took the reins. In the RICS' words:
"Surveying the Future aims to demonstrate the breadth and range of careers within property, land and construction and attract more talent to the industry from people with diverse backgrounds. The campaign was launched because the industry continues to be white, middle class and male dominated. Currently only 13% of chartered surveyors and 28% of trainees are women and across the whole of the construction sector, employing over 2.5 million people, women comprise just 11%."
Story by Stephen Cornish PhD, MA BSc FRICS FFPWS; Managing Director of Woodward Chartered Surveyors.