Ruth Reed has said she hopes her position as the first female president of the RIBA will help keep women in the profession during the recession

In her inaugural speech as head of the body last Thursday, Reed said the downturn was likely to result in the loss of more women than men from practice.

She said: “If my tenure of the presidency will in any way stem that tide, I will have achieved something worthwhile.”

Reed also called on the government to sustain quality of design in spite of financial pressures, saying green targets could not be met if standards fell.

Taking the reins from Sunand Prasad at a formal handover reception, Reed thanked the outgoing president for his work and praised his “deep intellect, excellent communication skills and a strong ethical basis”.