Societies can last if their users are diverse regarding their needs, interests, and abilities. Sustainable communities are composed of several balanced components to maintain their health over the long term. Gender equality is one of the fundamental components of a civilization that can last. It can be kept up by several means, where practical tools like architectural design and the built environment can be used. Although the importance of architecture in gender issues is commonly disregarded, the built environment exhibits gender concerns in various ways. To help satisfy the needs of a sustainable society, architecture must draw attention to gender concerns in the built environment. From the interior design of homes to the development of entire cities, gender inequalities impact all facets of spatial planning and creating the built environment. Even the materials, embellishments, and façade of a structure communicate gender. Based on the degree of privacy and the usefulness of the place, multiple categories can be used to study gender issues in the built environment.
Gender Issues in Residential Spaces
Gender concerns in the built environment first show up in the residential area. Homes are gathering spaces for families where they may take care of their daily needs. Previously, men typically occupied the better-furnished and structured rooms in gender-segregated multipurpose rooms. Even though we live in a democratic society, the division of labour among families and how it manifests in domestic architecture still exists. Women are now an integral part of the workforce, and the traditional home is no longer adequate to support the working woman.
Gender Issues in Working Spaces
Most of the labour women did in the workplace in the past was secretarial, which calls for open offices and communal areas. Today’s circumstances have altered, and as a result, workplace environments have changed to accommodate the needs of working women. Workspaces are better suited to serving various purposes, and there is more room for personalization or socialisation. Nonetheless, some occupations are viewed as inappropriate for women. One of the causes is industries requiring physical strength, such as construction labour or mechanic services. In less developed nations, women are underrepresented among architects and civil engineers, even though they are not required to perform direct physical work.
The social norms of acknowledgment are another factor. For instance, it is generally accepted that men should be the ones who operate public transportation, so even in the 21st century, men continue to make up the majority of drivers. In addition to white-collar work, caregiving occupations like teaching and nursing make up most positions suitable for women. The transformation of workplaces, based on changes in women’s lifestyles and increased participation in public life, also necessitates the development of urban spaces, which serve as hubs for socialisation for all workers and other society members.
Gender Issues in Urban Spaces
Today’s urban environments are developed and designed with certain non-gender-neutral assumptions about their use. Women play a significant role in the planning of urban environments due to their leadership in organisations that rebuild neighbourhoods and communities and their development of new paradigms. Nonetheless, because they do not have unrestricted access to the streets, minorities and women are still not complete citizens. To address gender issues, the built environment in metropolitan areas, such as squares, malls, roadways, sports facilities, green spaces, and playgrounds, needs to be changed.
A person enters an urban setting the instant they leave their house or place of employment. As a result, most metropolitan areas are made up of street layouts. They are also locations with little regulation and oversight. Transportation and safety are issues that women in cities face. Urban squares and streets must be planned so all users can access their features and feel comfortable. For instance, narrow streets, a lack of space between buildings, and a lack of artificial illumination at night all contribute to a sense of unease about safety. Women feel less secure walking alone after dark, particularly in urban areas.
Physical comfort is crucial for everyone on the pedestrian grounds, especially for those who have disabilities and for parents pushing strollers of kids. Urban squares serve a variety of purposes in addition to being areas where streets cross, including movement and circulation. In the context of gender issues, various factors need to be considered in addition to feeling safe and secure. It is crucial that the urban square can be used for sitting, relaxing, and passing the time in appropriate ways, such as on ergonomic seating components and in shaded places. Other than that, women who use urban spaces will likely take their beauty and practicality seriously. As a result, an urban square’s primary and auxiliary purposes must be effectively and attractively planned. The circulation spaces, stores, restaurants, cafes, and rest areas still require renovations to meet daily needs. While designing urban parks, accessibility, safety, and security concerns must come first.
Gender issues have particular ramifications and reflections on every civilization in urban, suburban, and workplace settings. They must be examined in the context of their environment for the collected information to benefit society.
In conclusion, the built environment plays a significant role in shaping women’s identities. Women have been historically excluded from participating in the design and construction of buildings, resulting in an environment that is not conducive to their needs and desires. However, women increasingly take charge of their identity in the built environment through various strategies such as activism, advocacy, and entrepreneurship. Women architects and designers create buildings that reflect their experiences and preferences, while grassroots organisations advocate for gender-inclusive spaces. Additionally, women entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the growing market for products and services that cater to the needs of women in the built environment. These efforts are not only creating a more inclusive and equitable built environment but are also challenging traditional gender roles and norms. As women continue to craft their identity in the built environment, we must recognize and support their contributions to creating a more just and equitable society.
Ceylan, S. (2020). Gender Issues in the Built Environment: A Study on the Role of Architecture for a Sustainable Society. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, 9, pp. 748–762. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/72053770/Gender_Issues_in_the_Built_Environment_A_Study_on_the_Role_of_Architecture_for_a_Sustainable_Society [Accessed: 9 March 2023].