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Empowering Change: Investing in Women to Accelerate Progress in the Construction Industry

Posted: 8th March 2024

Dr Wei Yang

CIC Chair (until June 2025)

On this International Women's Day 2024, I am honoured to write as the first female chair of the Construction Industry Council (CIC). As we celebrate under the UN theme 'Invest in women: Accelerate progress,' the urgency of achieving gender equality resonates more profoundly than ever. In a world facing multiple crises, the construction industry must play a pivotal role in investing in women to secure prosperous and just economies and ensure a healthy planet for future generations.

The 2024 UN theme for International Women's Day reminds us that investing in women is not just a moral obligation - it is an essential step towards addressing the challenges that humanity faces today. By ensuring women's and girls' rights across all aspects of life, we pave the way for inclusive economic growth, social justice, and environmental sustainability. The construction industry, as a key player in shaping the built environment, must actively contribute to this global imperative.

Joining other leaders in the construction industry, I am committed to fostering an environment where women are not just welcomed but actively encouraged to participate and lead. Achieving gender equality within our sector is not only about fairness, but also about unlocking the full potential of our industry. By investing in women, we enhance creativity, innovation, and problem-solving, leading to a more prosperous and just construction sector that benefits everyone.

The construction industry has historically been perceived as a male-dominated field, but we are determined to change this narrative. We are proud to have a female majority on the CIC board, and I am encouraged that many of our member organisations are led by female leaders. Through various initiatives across the industry, we are investing in the next generation of female leaders. But the process needs to be accelerated to cope with the fast-changing world.

Our commitment to gender equality goes hand in hand with our responsibility towards environmental sustainability. As builders of the future, we must ensure that our projects contribute to a healthy planet. By investing in women, we bring diverse perspectives to the table, fostering solutions that prioritise environmental considerations and address the challenges posed by climate change. Together, we can create a built environment that is not only functional and aesthetically pleasing but also sustainable and empathetic for future generations.

On this International Women's Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to 'Invest in women: Accelerate progress.' There is no age and gender difference in our spirit, no race difference in our soul. As long as we believe in ourselves, we can all make a lasting difference for good. Together, let us build a future where our industry serves as a catalyst for positive change, attracting and empowering talents from all walks of life.

Dr Wei Yang

CIC Chair (until June 2025)

Dr Wei Yang is an internationally renowned town planner and urban designer who champions a place-based whole systems approach to tackle the grand challenges of our times. She is an influential thought leader and a powerful advocate for climate actions, nature-based solutions, health & well-being, and social equality.

Wei has extensive experience in leading multi-disciplinary teams and implementing large-scale regeneration and low carbon master planning projects in Britain and internationally. Her professional strengths lie in combining innovative planning inspirations with feasible implementation solutions. She is also a popular keynote speaker, an author, and a scholar.

Wei was President for 2021 of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). She champions a revival of spirit and a modernised planning profession to tackle the global challenges in a systematic way, and thus to achieve collective wellbeing and fulfilment for all.

Wei is a lead figure in researching, promoting, and implementing 21st Century Garden City and green & low-carbon development approach worldwide. She is co-author of a bestselling book, Humanistic Pure Land and Garden Cities (Shi & Yang, 2021).

Wei is also co-founder and CEO of the Digital Task Force for Planning and co-author of A Digital Future for Planning – Spatial Planning Reimagined (Batty & Yang, 2022) which outlines blueprint for digital transformation of spatial planning and the sector’s future.

Through her leadership in various areas, Wei builds a bridge between research, development and policy via her understanding of and belief in the full potential of spatial panning as a pivotal applied science discipline.

She is a Fellow of Academy of Social Sciences, a Fellow of the RTPI, a Member of Chartered Institute of Highway and Transportation (CHIT), a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Client Advisor, and an Honorary Professor at University College London.

Wei also holds a number of board-level and advisory roles across different sectors. She is a board member of the British Library and Chair of its Capital Portfolio Committee, a Global Planner Networks (GPN) representative at the UN Habitat Professional Forum, and a Professionals Co-Chair of the UN Habitat World Urban Campaign Steering Committee.