Women in the City

Title: Women in the City: An investigation into the city as a man-made environment and the impact this has on women

Author: Nariza Hopley

Year: 2020

Abstract: Central to this research, this dissertation argues that social constructs of the city have formed gender inequalities and gendered spaces. The author argues that cities are designed too often by men and for men. Inequalities in decision-making and planning have disconnected women from the city and public spaces. Therefore cities are, as described by the design co-operative Matrix in their 1984 publication, a man-made environment. However, it is important to remember that despite these, women continue to go about their everyday lives in cities. This study will focus on the impacts that the man-made environment has for women in the city.

Through the eyes of a minority ethnic female architect in training, the author aims to propose an optimistic direction for architectural design and practice. In the words of Leslie Kanes Weisman, in Women’s Environmental Rights: A Manifesto, “Feminism implies that we fully recognise this environmental inadequacy and proceed to think and act out of that recognition.” (Weisman, 1981). As designers and creative practitioners, we have the opportunity to respond to these inequalities. But also as women, it is important to make visible the meaning of our experiences and rethink the environment in those terms. There are no instant answers to tackle these inequalities. This dissertation is written to further describe the problem, so as to help women understand their own relationship with the built environment and to help future practitioners understand how the environment is a problem for women. It will act as a catalyst to start thinking about how things could be different.