Women disadvantaged by urban planning…apparently

The Centre for Work + Life at the University of South Australia has conducted a four year study into work, home and communities and how our current urban planning practice impacts on our day to day life. There were some interesting (though perhaps obvious) outcomes including that most workplaces, and some education opportunities, are located too far from suburban areas and people are spending too long commuting which is impacting of family life. Suburbs where employment and education facilities are included in the development (I assume they mean something like Mawson Lakes) encourage better work-life balance.

One annoyance though…the Director for the Centre, Professor Barbara Pocock claims this effect from urban sprawl: “Many highly educated and skilled women are forced to abandon careers in the city and take lower skilled jobs close to home in order to be available to their children and many family-oriented men have to trade time with their children for long commutes and long working hours. The reconfiguration of work in terms of hours, intensity and responsibility means increased pressure on families, with increased need for child-care support and informal social linking.”

The basic idea is fair enough, but why make it a female / male thing? Women aren’t (and shouldn’t have to be) the only ones to stay home with the kids. Its an indication of our society as a whole that it is getting near impossible for families to be able to survive on single incomes – i think this is more the issue, rather than it being about women staying at work and men having to commute. Come on, are we in the 21st Century or what? The recommendations of the report are good and i think current urban planning does need a bit of a shake-up. I think Perth has some good facets of this with large scale multi-use and commercial centres going into areas from Joondalup to Cockburn, increasing opportunities through the sprawling suburbs. So there are opportunities close to home for a lot of people, not just mum. Although, how many architecture firms are not in the Perth / West Perth / Leederville / Subi area or Freo?

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2 thoughts on “Women disadvantaged by urban planning…apparently

  1. I’d be interested in reading more of her report because I am not sure what context her comments are made but i totally agree with your comment about the pressure to be a 2 income family. Also, it irks me the implicit assumption that “highly educated and skilled women” (or men) are wasting their skills if they they make choices that prioritise raising small children above their careers. Raising little people into contributing members of society is also challenging, rewarding and important work!

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