Women and Planning: Creating Gendered Realities

Women and Planning: Creating Gendered Realities

Women and Planning: Creating Gendered Realities

Women and Planning: Creating Gendered Realities

Synopsis

Planning is currently a male profession, but an analysis of a century of town planning reveals this to be a new development; women have been central to the planning movement since it began. Women and Planningis the first comprehensive history and analysis of women and the planning movement, covering the philosophical, practical and policy dimensions of 'planning for women'. Beyond the marginalization of women, modern, scientific planning hides a story of past links with eugenics, colonialism, artistic, utopian and religious movements and the occult. Central to the discussion is the questioning of how male planners have rewritten planning in their own image, projecting patriarchal assumptions in their creation of 'urban realities'. Issues of class, sexuality, ethnicity and disability are raised by the fundamental question of 'Who is being planned for?'

Excerpt

In this chapter the context of the planning system and the representation of women therein will be introduced (Greed, 1993a: Part I gives a fuller account). It is easy to blame the planners for the gendered nature of towns and cities, for if we assume a direct link between the nature of the built environment and town planning, this implies that the planners have unlimited power. But planners are only one set of actors within the development process which creates the built environment. Others include private-sector developers and their professional advisers, politicians, and, more broadly, urban theorists, other urban economic and social policy makers, and a variety of cultural and entrepreneurial trend setters. the nature of the planning system is problematic at source, because of its legal scope and limited powers, rather than because of 'who' the planners are. Even if more chief planning officers were women it might not follow that cities would be better (cf. Greed, 1988), or that planning policies would be different. One must consider the nature and organization of the planning system, the limitations it offers to change, and the types of women and men who are attracted to, and accepted by, the planning subculture. the efficacy of the planning system in addressing women's needs is influenced by the style of management, policy priorities, level of political support and professional perspective adopted by the planner, over and above the legal requirements of 'his' job. the imprint of gender relations on space is not a mechanistic process, and is more likely to be achieved through the spread of ideas, and visions than through enforcement of planning policy.

The planning system can effect relatively little change in the city in any generation, short of knocking it all down. Only a small proportion of the built environment is redeveloped each year, (D.o.E, 1992d). To a considerable degree (especially in historic European cities) the nature of urban form has been established by past generations (see chapter 5). Powerful historical, cultural and ideological forces are at work determining what society thinks cities should be like (compare, Foucault, 1972, on the power of the archaeology of inherited wisdom and knowledge). As Reade (1987:161) explains planners

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