News & Views

Emma Taylor

blog: Inspiring women in transport

Author: Emma Taylor

International Women’s Day is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the importance of creating a more gender-balanced world and celebrating the achievements of women in the workplace. Achieving a shift towards greater gender parity is particularly important for transport planning - a historically male-dominated industry - to ensure the development and delivery of new places, and the transport networks that serve them, consider the experiences and insights of women. 

During my twelve year career as a transport planner, I’ve seen that ingrained stereotypes are being challenged and we are working towards a more diverse representation of women in transport, but there is still more that could be done. I’ve reflected on my career in transport so far, the award-winning projects I’ve led and how we can all inspire the next generation of female transport planners.

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Nottingham Market Square With Tram

I chose to study Geography at the University of Nottingham because I was always interested in the world and how humans have shaped it.  A third-year module on 'Urban Planning' made me realise that I could turn this interest into a career - positively shaping the built environment and creating places where people want to live, work and play. My degree led me to an MSc in Spatial Planning at UCL. I came to learn that it is essential that future development needs to be both economically and environmentally sustainable, which led me to specialise in 'Sustainable Urbanism and Transport'.

Seminars on sustainable urban forms developed my belief that town planning and transport are intrinsically linked, and an understanding that the 'wrong' type of development can create car-centric lifestyles. Through seminars by David Banister and Robin Hickman, I learned about how existing 'unsustainable' developments and lifestyles could be made more sustainable through new and improved infrastructure, and smarter travel initiatives. Upon finishing my MSc, I joined the Atkins Transport Planning Graduate Scheme, specialising in Development Planning and Sustainable Transport and after five years made the move to Integrated Transport Planning - a company that shares my belief that providing a range of transport options is an essential part of sustainable development, and transport should be integrated into land-use proposals from their conception.

Leading award-winning projects

Since joining ITP six years ago, I’ve continued to specialise in sustainable development planning and the delivery of sustainable transport strategies. I've also moved into a research and critical friend role, evaluating smarter travel projects and area-wide transport programmes.  

I've had the privilege to work on a wide range of projects across the UK and Northern Ireland, with a whole spectrum of clients: major private sector developers; architects, town planners, and engineering consultancies; local planning and highways authorities; and central government bodies. This variety is what keeps me engaged and it also means that I can view things from the perspective of the general public, the business community, transport bodies and wider stakeholder groups. Some of my personal career highlights are:

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I'm currently on secondment to intu, as their inhouse 'Highways Manager', working across their portfolio of UK shopping centres, with a focus on intu Lakeside, intu Merry Hill, intu Metrocentre and intu Trafford Centre. My remit is to improve customer journeys to the shopping centres, and in doing so help create ‘winning destinations’. This role has provided me with the opportunity to apply my knowledge and experience in both a development planning and operational management setting. New developments must be economically viable and commercially sustainable from conception, and it’s essential to think about target markets and end users from the outset.  As well as gaining this strategic commercial insight, I’ve upskilled in operational areas such as VMS, Wayfinding and Car Park Management. 

It’s about more than just project work…

Professional development has been an important part of my career and in 2013 I took part in the Transport Planning Society’s bursary paper which was great opportunity for me as a young professional to engage with more senior transport planning colleagues. Networking industry events such as the Transport Practitioners’ Meeting (TPM) provides a great opportunity to meet transport colleague from across the public and consultancy sectors; to debate and discuss emerging trends in the industry.

I love that I can practice what I preach. I walk to work every day in Nottingham, but like other businesses, I realise that there is still a place for the car. I think it’s about empowering people to make informed transport choices and realising that people have different mobility needs. This can only happen when all transport options have had adequate and appropriate levels of consideration, commitment and investment by government.

 The next generation of transport planners…

Raising awareness of transport planning as a career option for new graduates is a passion and I relish the opportunity to inspire students about the impact they could have on creating better places as a transport planner. I’ve spoken to third year students at the University of Nottingham and Loughborough University about careers in transport planning and what it is like working at ITP, but if you’d like more information click here or get in touch.


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