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How inclusive are your public spaces?

I subscribe to a blog called Cities for People. It’s the blog of Gehl Architects out of Copenhagen and their focus–both the blog and the firm—is on how the built environment affects people’s quality of life. They call themselves Urban Quality Consultants.

This morning, they wrote a post on gender mainstreaming in public spaces, which, I’m told, is top of mind in cities such as Copenhagen and Vienna.

The key insight was that, for a variety of reasons, men and boys seemed to be engaging with public spaces more than women and girls. For example, they found that boys were generally more assertive than girls and so, if there was a toss up between who was going to use a space, the boys would usually win out. As a result, there’s been a lot of debate around creating more inclusive public spaces, both from a design standpoint and a policy standpoint.

Interestingly enough, this is a debate that doesn’t seem to be happening here in Toronto. And I wonder if it’s because we don’t have the same problems (or I’m just oblivious) or if it’s because we don’t care enough about public spaces to do gender mapping exercises.

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