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Better, safer, more humane: Why female architects should be building cities

Toronto skyline

Michelle Siu/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Let's start with the unlit parking lots at night: How many men think consciously about carrying their keys in their hands so they can get their car opened quickly, or use them as a weapon? And while many more dads are sharing in the experience, moms still spend the most time pushing the stroller down the street. So does that mean that having more female architects would result in brighter, friendlier and more humane cities?

Christine Murray, the editor of the Architect's Journal in England, says a female eye would transform our urban centres – making them better designed and more livable.

"Women have a unique perspective on the world," Murray told The Telegraph, "and it is not to say that men cannot design excellent cities, or a good nursery or workplace, but everybody would benefit from designs by both halves of the gene pool."

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Originally from Toronto, Murray and some other leading female architects argue that lack of women in the male-dominated profession has limited the people-friendly development of green spaces and schools.

Their comments, reported in the Telegraph, were really meant to highlight discrimination in architecture – a profession in which, a British survey recently found, two inthree female architects reported "'insidious' discrimination or bullying by men during their careers." In Britain, for instance, only 20 per cent of registered architects are women, the article reported. And as a post in Condo.ca observed last year, it's hard to know exactly how women might change cities, since none of the world's "starchitects" are actually female.

The Telegraph chose to headline the story by saying that having a women build a city would make them "prettier," which is not actually a word that any of the female architects used, and had a sexist twinge all on its own. The goal of having functional and elegant urban spaces is hardly gender specific – the real problem is that too few of one gender actually have input into their design.

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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