Raising the voice of women in 2020

A year ago Astrolabe Group committed to a diversity pledge – to actively contribute to the diversity of voices and contributions at events.

Working in planning and place-making we often find that the room (or virtual session these days!) still looks a little too similar. Diversity is often not given enough consideration to how it can elevate the conversation, and so is not captured well enough in events. 

Hearing more voices – giving rise to their experiences and expertise 

Over the last twelve months, we’ve committed to our pledge by raising the voice of women. Visible role models help to breakdown entrenched systems where we have seen an over-representation, particularly of men, being asked to present or participate as the ‘expert’. 

We’re pleased to report that of our own events 90% of those included women presenters and 90% had at least half attendance as women. We’ve supported and promoted our staff who identify as women to speak at external events with every woman speaking at least one externally run event in their area of experience and expertise. 

Importantly, we’ve started conversations. For events where we participate, we make sure to advocate for a diversity of voices and provide suggestions where we can. Our pledge is designed to guide our behaviour when organising events and how to be part of the bigger conversation on how to create change when participating in others’ events. 


Image: our 12-month report back of Astrolabe Group events

With the voices of women already under-represented in media and events, the impacts of COVID-19 have created even more damaging impacts to participation. Our event exploring the gendered impacts of the global pandemic highlighted some of these impacts, particularly in employment. 

Early evidence related to job loss suggests that women are facing increased economic insecurity. There is an under-representation of women in leadership roles and senior positions in the healthcare sector despite the fact that the workforce is predominantly female, which undoubtedly reduced the perspectives at the table as part of critical decision making processes this year. A lack of diversity leads to a lack of empathy and understanding.

Image: impacts of COVID-19 explored at our national virtual panel

We’re still working on it

Astrolabe wants to hear from diverse perspectives that open up a wider range of ideas and experiences that all people can benefit from.

Without the opportunity for many to be recognised as experts, we will all miss out on increased depth of knowledge and empathy towards experiences different from our own.