Urban environments are crafted with the convenience of men in mind, neglecting the needs and well-being of women


In her 1980 essay titled “What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like? Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work,” Dolores Hayden, an architect, professor emerita, urban historian, and writer, argued that the architectural design and urban planning in the United States have long been guided by the principle that “a woman’s place is in the home.” This ideology persists to this day, shaping cities to cater to the needs and conveniences of men while neglecting those of women.

The fields responsible for developing and building cities—architecture, government, and urban planning—are predominantly male-dominated. Despite comprising half of the U.S. population and the majority of urban residents, women are vastly underrepresented in these fields registered architects were female, and . Consequently, city plans often fail to adequately address women’s needs, whether they are homemakers or part of the workforce.

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For example, transportation systems are typically designed with the needs of male commuters in mind, overlooking the specific challenges faced by women. Women are more likely than men to use public transportation or walk.

Moreover, urban designs often overlook the caregiving responsibilities that fall disproportionately on women. Inadequate access to public toilets or childcare facilities can limit women’s participation in public life and exacerbate inequalities.

Despite these challenges, cities worldwide are beginning to address gender biases in urban planning. Initiatives such as improved street lighting, transparent glass corridors for increased visibility, and crowdsourced data for identifying unsafe areas are emerging to create safer and more inclusive environments for women.

By acknowledging and removing the obstacles that hinder women’s mobility and safety in public spaces, cities can foster greater equality and empower women to fully participate in urban life without compromising their well-being or caregiving responsibilities.

“Repurposed article originally published in Forbes”

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