How far have we come since the '80s vision of the 'non-sexist city'?

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In 1980, the feminist journal Signs published a visionary essay asking readers to imagine what a non-sexist city would be like. A then junior professor of urban planning at the University of California, Dolores Hayden, wrote the essay.

Hayden argued that architects and urban planners worked off the implicit understanding that a woman belonged in the home. She believed the isolated, suburban family house had been designed as a retreat for the male breadwinner, trapping the woman in the role of a homemaker and carer.

With more women entering paid work and family sizes shrinking, Hayden saw the design of the city – and the family home – as having potential for creating more equal relationships. Nearly 40 years on, society’s profile has evolved further. We’re having fewer children, more of us live alone, and women are in paid employment in ever-greater numbers.

And yet, despite this, the design of the modern city suggests urban planners may still be perpetuating stereotypes of the patriarchal family. We have some way to create a more equal city.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation. Academic rigour, journalistic flair.
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018

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  • feminism
  • family
  • inequality
  • urban planning
  • affordable housing
  • sexism
  • housing stress
  • patriarchy
  • family life
  • childcare facilities
  • women and the city


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