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TU DARMSTADT II GENDER IN BUILT ENVIRONMENT II PROF. DR. DONNA J. DRUCKER M.

SC ARCH II IMRAN KARDAS

Summary
What would a Non-Sexist City be like? -Speculations on Housing, Urban
Design, and Human Work by Dolores Hayden

The article What would a non-sexist city be like? Speculations on housing, urban
design, and human work was written by Dolores Hayden, an American professor
for Architecture, Urbanism and American Studies at Yale University. Hayden asserts
that the built environment suppresses women economically, socially, and
physically because of the implicit understanding of architects and urban planners
that women belong to the home. In that, her main point of criticism is the
architectural type of the isolated suburban single-family house. She suggests,
instead, a community-oriented living with shared household amenities that
supports employed women and their families.

The rst critique focuses on how isolated, suburban living affected the life of
women. Hayden traces this back to the diversion of workplace and residential
place. This type of settlement was formed in the late nineteenth century, when
demonstrations occurred among the industrial workers. The industrial rms started
campaigns to avoid conicts by improving the social and economic status of their
male workers. They became homeowners of single-family houses isolated in the
suburbs with family wages. In this scenario the husband is going to his paid work
and the wife is working at home and caring for the children. More importantly, this
type of living arrangement in the suburbs and also the household with the paid
breadwinner and the unpaid homemaker became the national goal.
In addition, the physical separation of workplaces from the home increased the
demand for private transportation and fuel. Hayden writes about driving nine
miles to work every day, which improved the economy.
Another point of Hayden is that isolated houses need every appliance like a
lawnmower etc. which increases the bills in every family. Hayden writes about how
homebound women became the target of commercials for home appliances and
how they were manipulated with the pressure of consumption. Moreover, most of
the appliances were for only a single purpose such as kitchen gadgets. In the
same way, Hayden critics the zoning of rooms. For example, a kitchen necessitates

SUMMARY 01 - GENDER IN BUILT ENVIRONMENT 1


TU DARMSTADT II GENDER IN BUILT ENVIRONMENT II PROF. DR. DONNA J. DRUCKER M.SC ARCH II IMRAN KARDAS

someone who cooks. More appliances and the traditional organization of rooms
result in more housework for women and in turn, women become more isolated
from the family and other social activities. Likewise, isolated women are more often
victims of domestic violence which remains unnoticed.
However, gender equality does not improve just with the employed women. The
society expects that women spend the same or more time with housework and
child care that they spent at their paid work. Hayden discusses in the article how
women have alternatives to this way of living. The main problem remains the
isolation of women from society that offers no real alternative. Thus, women are
looking for a living situation in which they can combine living and raising children
with work. Hayden explores how various so-called opportunities could alleviate
womens living conditions.
However, for instance, state-funded support is still directed towards the ideal
family with a traditional role allocation of husband and wife. Issues such as child
care of employed women are seen as private problems that are not the
responsibility of the government. On the contrary, these problems were exploited
for prot with new business models, specically tailored to these problems like
baby-sitting per hour, fast-food delivery services, or loans for cars. As a result,
women are hindered in their economic and social development and fail to reach
their independence.
Hayden proposes a division of labor both in the private household as well as in the
neighborhood scale. She suggests that both, husband and wife, are both equally
responsible for unpaid housework and child care. As a result, both can pursue
their professional careers at the same time. Furthermore, organizations which
support the traditional role of women in the household nancially have to adapt
their programs to recognize both women and men as equal. Also, spatial
segregation has to end and unpaid domestic work has to be minimized.
As an example, Hayden illustrates a neighborhood with private housing and
collective spaces such as day-care, shared laundry, food-court, a grocery market,
and domestic aid for residents. All these collective spaces employ paid residents
who also have social security and health benets for their work in the
neighborhood.
To conclude, Hayden believes that communal living could overcome gender
inequality and both women and men can take advantage from this. Examples in
Denmark and Germany have proven the success of this concept and Hayden
hopes that more cities will follow recognizing the benets.

SUMMARY 01 - GENDER IN BUILT ENVIRONMENT 2