by Jessi Barnes, PLA, ASLA
By making women’s safety a priority, we’ll likely make public spaces safer for everyone.
Did you know that Central Park in New York City has just one statue of real, historical women? Guess how many statues of real men are in Central Park: twenty-three. Can you believe that? Moreover, it took until August 2020 to get our single statue celebrating real women’s achievements in one of the most famous public spaces in the country.
This is hardly an anomaly. Think about your own town: how visible are women in the public spaces you frequent? Moreover, how often are you considering women’s specific needs in your designs? Probably not often—possibly not ever. It should come as no surprise then that our built environments favor men over women, and the disparity goes far beyond representation in statuary.
Design shortcomings from male bias have negative impacts on women’s mobility, economic status, and health—all of which increase vulnerability and decrease sustainability and resilience. If we’re interested in creating sustainable, resilient communities, we have to directly address women’s needs.