News from the Top: Designing Cities for Women is an Economic Imperative

February 18, 2019

Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership serves as Chair of the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Board of Directors. Tami offers her expertise in city building to members of IDA in her monthly News from the Top column.

By 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities—half of those residents will be women. And yet, of the 94% of the world’s cities that have city plans, only 2% specifically include women in their plans. So, 92% of cities are missing the mark by not creating cities that support and attract women. Despite significant strides made by and for women in recent decades, our cities are still not delivering in creating places and spaces that support women as a key economic driver.

Transportation is just one example of our cities’ shortcomings when it comes to accommodating women. Women make 15% more trips out of the home than men and are 80% more likely to take stops along their journey than men. However, women are less likely to utilize transit because of factors such as safety and the added cost of multiple stops.

A recent study by San Jose University’s Mineta Transportation Institute found that women account for 15% of the transportation workforce. How can we design cities for women when women aren’t at the table?

Designing our cities for women means thinking differently about time and space. In the public realm, we must consider factors such as width of sidewalks to accommodate strollers and amount of lighting to improve perception of safety.

To design our cities for women, we must listen to women’s voices; see and measure women’s experiences; and design for those experiences. We must strive to do better for women- present and future- in our cities; the economic future of our cities depends on it.