I had a conference call this morning with my colleagues at The Center for the Living City, and it was the most exciting conversation I’ve had in a while. It featured Daphne Spain as guest speaker; she is the author of Gendered Spaces and How Women Saved the City, among other books and journal articles.
Daphne is the James M. Page Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia, and her work has helped to acknowledge the gender challenges women face … to make the invisible, visible. As she put it, “the places where women have the lowest status are those where they have no physical mobility and have to have permission from men to move outside the home.”
She gave examples: when the University of Utah began its architecture program, there was no expectation that women would enroll. As a result, there were no women’s bathrooms built, other than for secretaries. In one of many international cases, she pointed out that in India, women have the option of taking women-only train cars, so they can avoid being harassed… but there aren’t a lot of those cars.
Having this conversation on the 2018 “International Day of the Girl” – and on the day that Michelle Obama announced her Global Girls Alliance – seemed so of-the-moment to me. I’m delighted to have been part of this inspiring conversation, and to be incorporating these subjects into my work on cities with The Center for the Living City. Stay tuned!