But it’s not just a problem with the past. Today, the urbanist world continues to be dominated by men. “Pop-urbanism” is filled with male names: Richard Florida, Jan Gehl, Gil Peñalosa, the list goes on. Despite representing around 40-50% of graduates from urban planning, design and architecture schools in some countries, women only make up 10 percent of the highest-ranking jobs at leading architecture firms and urban planning offices. A 2017 survey by Dezeen revealed that only three of the world’s 100 biggest architecture firms are headed by women and only two have management teams that are more than 50 per cent female. It’s not so crazy to argue, then, that the urbanism industry, like many others, has a problem with sexism.
As Caroline Criado Perez’s recent volume on gender bias, Invisible Women, amply highlights: when you are not in the room, your needs and desires go unseen. For too long, women and many other demographics have simply not been (allowed) in the rooms where our cities are planned. As a result, in most cities, we live with the legacy of urban design for the able-bodied, 25-55 year-old, (white) man. This urgently needs to change – not only to make cities more liveable places for women, but also for disabled people, children, people of colour, and ethnic, gender and sexual minorities.