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“If I Walked on my Own at Night I Stuck to Well Lit Areas”: Gendered Spaces and Urban Transport in 20th Century Britain

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JournalResearch in Transportation Economics
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jan 2012
DatePublished (current) - 2012
Issue number1
Volume34
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)74-85
Early online date9/01/12
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Using photographs, this paper explores the gendered link between transport and the urban environment. It becomes apparent that moving around in urban spaces is an experience which is or can be fundamentally different for women and men. From pictures I conclude that a historical analysis of gender and urban transport ought to be a straightforward task to undertake: women are clearly visible in the visual record of the transport environment. However, a look at the historiography shows that research on gendering the city mostly deals with workplaces, women’s employment, class and race segregation in urban areas, welfare programmes specially designed to helped women, urban housing and marginalisation of women, housewives, healthcare, homeless women and politics. Gender and transport is hardly to be found: how women move and moved through urban space has not received sustained attention. Further, the main body of scholarly texts lacks in historical concern, stemming from such diverse disciplines as sociology, geography, economic and political sciences, women’s studies and planning.

In this paper, I examine the interrelation between transport, gender and space to explain eventual gender inequalities we are confronted with at the end of the twentieth century, firstly to shed light on the experience of women travelling on public transport; secondly to examine moving around in cities in a wider sense by focussing on walking; and thirdly to seek to explain the change of urban structures that determine transport by analysing traffic planning. Eventually these three aspects of gendered transport in cities reveal what different spaces and places women used, experienced and how such a specific experience promoted the construction of gendered social and economic identities.

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