International Women’s Day 2023

  • | Elizabeth Giles

This International Women’s day, we asked the women in our practice to explore this year’s theme of ‘Equity’ and what it means to them.


How will you help to embrace equity and forge a more inclusive company/industry?

Emma Chrystie-Lowe, Part 1 Architectural Assistant: “I believe at Donald Insall and architecture practices as a whole, it is fundamental to strive to achieve equality through the process of equity. Through understanding, respecting, and incorporating the peculiarities of all individuals, architecture can embrace diversity and provide more inclusivity. It is pleasing to know that Donald Insall is enthusiastic to be engaged with gender inequality, providing a 50:50 ratio of female to male employees. The practice can also forge a more inclusive company through creating an inclusivity group; a way to enhance existing organisational protocols to provide better support to our people by increasing diversity and accessibility.”

Nabeela Ameen, Senior Architect: “I have seen the architectural professional changes a lot during my working life – its great to see women coming back after maternity leave, and not just coming back but progressing with their careers. If we all work together to be adaptable and accommodating, there is so much talent that we can preserve within our field, and this diversity and inclusion will make better buildings, spaces and places for us and generations to come. Conservation is a great profession to be doing this in – conserving for our future!”

Kate Martyn, Practice Director: “For me equity has been creating a flexible office environment whereby everyone’s needs are supported, from working parents to returning part-time students and many other personal demands and aspirations.”

Helen Ensor, Practice Director: “I have worked for and with some truly inspirational women throughout my career – women who showed me through their example that you can reach the highest levels of career success.  I am a great believer in supporting women, who tend to lack the self confidence of our male colleagues, and helping them unlock their talent and potential.  At Insall, we support women at every stage in their career, and we encourage women (and indeed all our members) to bring their whole selves to work.  Life can be messy – we may have children, or we may be carers for others in our family – sometimes we can all give more and sometimes we need some understanding that we can’t give as much right now. That’s what equality means to me.”

Olivia Stitson, Architect: ” I am very grateful for the experience I have gained at Insall so far, particularly for my exposure to site and the invaluable skills this has taught me. In what is still a very male dominated environment that could seem daunting to young women, I have been able to grow in confidence and will passon my skills and experiences to encourage others to get involved and change the balance of women on site in construction.”

Abigail McHardy, Part 2 Architectural Assistant: “I am lucky enough to have been surrounded by many inspirational women throughout my journey into architecture and consider myself extremely privileged to work in a company alongside so many talented women, within an industry that is notoriously male dominated. I wish to build on our inclusivity as a company and break down barriers further through continued mentoring of future female students. I currently mentor through the Women in Architecture and Women in Property platforms and hope to support people into architecture and break down the bias into the profession.”

Liz Giles, Graphic Assistant: “It is very encouraging to be working in a company with approximately 50% women, We should encourage young women to work within creative fields, and that it is also attainable to work in the higher roles within them.”



What advice would you give to future women looking to join the practice or wider industry? How do you feel we should celebrate female talent in the company?

Emma Chrystie-Lowe, Part 1 Architectural Assistant: “As a recent architecture graduate who is only just discovering the professional architectural field, I have been greatly inspired by seeing the progression and achievements of female colleagues through different parts of their architectural careers, from architectural assistants up to architects. It is great to be a part of projects whereby I am supported and felt valued, and also being a part of female lead projects.”

Helen Ensor, Practice Director: “Women heavily outweigh men in the historic buildings team.  I don’t know why this is.  It’s an intellectually demanding role, one which is pressured and fast-paced and we’re lucky enough to have the best team of people probably in the country working in heritage consultancy.”

Abigail McHardy, Part 2 Architectural Assistant: “As someone just starting out within the profession and soon to hopefully qualify as an architect, it is incredibly encouraging to see so many women at all levels of the company. My year was the first year at university to have more women on the course than men and I am so privileged to see this transpire into my work place. Everyone is encouraged and celebrated at Donald Insall and that’s one of the company’s biggest strengths. ”

Olivia Stitson, Architect: ” I have had the pleasure of working within lots of different design teams during my time at Insall, and have met many inspirational women in leading roles. Insall is encouraging women to take these positions and provides the experience necessary to perform them well. I am currently enrolled in the in-Practice Conservation Course through which specialists from the company pass on their knowledge to those of us at the beginning of our careers. The number of female speakers we have had as a part of this has been inspiring.”