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Gender Curricula Planning (Urban Planning)

Course: Planning, Urban Planning
Group of courses: Engineering

Course objectives:

Students should be taught the basic theories and empirical findings of women's and gender studies in relation to spatial issues. They should recognise the significance of the category gender (and other social differentiations such as class or ethnic origin) for development planning and urban planning. In addition, they should learn how to apply urban planning approaches, methods and procedures that take social differentiation into account and try to compensate for disadvantages.

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Teaching content/subject-specific gender studies content:

Women's and gender studies in the area of urban planning focus on interactions between gender relations in society and spatial or temporal-spatial structures. This work is based on the premise that gender relations in society are manifested in spatial structures on a symbolic, legal, functional and material level, and that changes in social gender relations should be accompanied by changes in temporal-spatial structures. The task of a gender-sensitive and gender-appropriate planning is the development of theories, methods and approaches to gender-equitable regional development.

The theoretical side particularly includes work on:

  • Spatial theory, analysing the significance of gender and other forms of social differentiation in the process of the constitution of space. Alongside social, economical, political and legal factors, this analysis also includes philosophical and cultural aspects (e.g. the gender connotations of the dichotomy of public and private space in its historical development or the gender connotations of nature and culture).
  • Planning theory, illustrating which androcentric understandings of gender relations form the basis of the past and present planning implicit androcentric conceptions in which gender relations and alternatives are presented. One example is the separation of functions, based on a traditional division of labour based on gender (with women in the role of housewives responsible for reproductive work), albeit without making this explicit. Women's and gender studies have found examples of such androcentric assumptions throughout planning, and in some cases formulated alternative paradigms (e. g. "mixed functions", "deceleration rather than acceleration", "focus on everyday life in planning"). This involves planning approaches that combine a gender-equitable development with ecological principles that lead to a sustainable development, a theory of the planning process and its legal basis that reveals and presents alternatives gender bias in the planning process and especially in decision-making structures. Whereas not only the processes of the regulatory planning and its hierarchical decision structures are relevant but also the informal planning process, in which, economic potentials are relevant for decisions. In the center of the alternatives is the application of gender mainstreaming in the planning (including gender budgeting) and the "gender planning"

Research in the field includes extensive empirical/analytical work on urban planning, focuses particularly on

  • the meaning of gender differences in social, economic and cultural living conditions and standards for the use of space-time requirements and the possibilities and forms of the appropriation of space
  • the different spatial structures at a national, regional and local level and its gender-specific impact on living conditions and structural changes in the spatial context of social, economic and political transformation processes
  • the importance of change in gender relations, especially changes in work, life and living arrangements of women in different social situations concerning spatial development and land use
  • the impact of social and demographic change and its connected changing gender ratios on spatial development and land use,
  • the spatial gender relations in different societies

In the center of many empirical studies of space-related women's and gender studies are still the implications of the gender division of labor and the associated compatibility issues "work and family, access to the employment market, the space-structural support for care work, gender-based design of the home and residential environment, including its social aspects and the possibility of unlimited, free and equal mobility and land use, which still consists of gender-specific economic, social and cultural constraints. Another topic is the analysis of the interaction of gender and space in non-Western societies.
Gender is not to be seen as an isolated category, but in combination (intersectionality) with other social differences (such as social class, ethnicity, origin, color, sexual orientation, etc.).

Also in the subject area planning practice is about three different issues.

  • The first aim is to develop specific planning approaches on the basis of empirical analysis of both the integrated planning and the various sectoral plans. These analyse and critically investigate gender-differentiated effects of mainstream planning concepts, integrative planning and specific planning, developing specific suggestions for planning approaches on this basis. These planning approaches take account of women's specific temporal-spatial requirements in different life situations an area neglected in mainstream planning. Moreover, they attempt to break down the gender hierarchies fixed in spatial structures, thus contributing to the dissolution of hierarchical gender relations. This work includes studies on
    • Public space and unrestricted accessibility
    • Functionality and accessibility of housing
    • Social and reproductive infrastructure
    • Traffic and transport
    • Regional development
    • Urban development
    • Development of social space
  • The second aim is other practice-based work that is related to the planning process and its (re)design through gender mainstreaming and inclusive participation models (to overcome gender bias).
  • A third field of practice-related work is related to the professional practice of urban planners. This investigates gender differences in the planning professions, focusing on women's contribution to the development of urban planning. This provides indications for designing degree courses (by giving greater weight to jobs in which women are particularly relevant in professional practice).

The above list of subjects should not be regarded as a final canon of knowledge in the area, but as an indication of the broad spectrum of women's and gender studies in the area of space and planning. This is an area which is constantly growing and subject to lively academic discourse. Current discussions focus in particular on the issue of differences between women (and between men) and the intersectionality of various social differentiations. They also highlight the significance of social construction processes of gender, which no longer allow simple answers to the question of gender-balanced planning. It is therefore all the more important to integrate social differentiations and hierarchies into the theory and practice of planning.

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Integration of gender studies content into the curriculum:

Gender is fundamentally a cross-sectional subject. The above content should therefore ideally be integrated into all teaching courses. This requires addressing theories of gender and gender relations and their current empirical forms in basic courses. It also means integrating the theories, research findings and planning concepts outlined above into courses on planning theory and all courses on integrative and specific planning i.e. mainstreaming gender. Given the current mainstream orientation of the subject, this is unlikely to take place in all cases.

If the content of women's and gender studies in urban planning cannot be integrated into all modules, we recommend offering a "gender module" or module elements on the theory, research and practice of women's and gender studies in urban planning. These elements could be as follows:

  1. "Space and gender" module outlining the basic theories of women's and gender studies in relation to space
  2. "Planning theory and gender-inclusive planning processes" module illustrating androcentric aspects of the dominant planning theory and presenting alternative planning procedures (gender mainstreaming, participation models)
  3. "Gender planning" module or modules on one or several selected planning areas (e.g. urban planning, regional planning, traffic planning, housing, etc.), presenting the empirical findings of women's and gender studies in planning and introducing gender-inclusive planning concepts on this basis.

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Degree Stage:

The above content should be integrated into basic courses (Bachelor's phase). The first module is suitable for the second or third semester, with the other modules following on. The content should also be extended and intensified in Master's degrees.