Cities and Gender

Research | Safer Cities

Highlighting alarming levels of harassment and abuse of girls and young women in cities.

From masturbation in public to being groped and sexually assaulted, girls are suffering relentless harassment and abuse in cities worldwide. Unsafe in the City, which was based on more than 21,000 testimonials of girls and young women living in Delhi, Kampala, Lima, Madrid and Sydney, found that in all five cities, boys and men grope, chase, stalk, leer at, verbally insult, and flash girls and young women. It found this behaviour is condoned by society with authorities rarely taking action, and bystanders usually doing just that – standing by. This forces girls to adjust their behaviour to protect themselves.

Investigator:  Associate Professor Nicole Kalms, MADA

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Research | Digital technology and the safety of women and girls in urban space

Personal safety Apps or crowd-sourced activism tools?

Responding to the prevalence of crimes against women, locative safety technology targets women’s gendered experience in neo-liberal cities. Apps with panic buttons and incident reporting features connect the phone’s location to ‘friends’ or emergency services with cloud-syncing devices, serving as a ‘virtual witness’ to verbal or physical assault.

Unsurprisingly, safety Apps are marketable products for women to (re)construct their identities. By fusing women’s social reality with anticipated, and at times fictitious, fears about occupying urban space, the Apps may ironically pre-regulate women’s behaviours and interactions. The ‘Watch Over Me’ app sells a retro-sexist ‘guardian angel’ where women are viewed as passive, potential victims.

Author:  Associate Professor Nicole Kalms, MADA

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Research | Contentious Cities: Design and the Gendered Production of Space

Unique interdisciplinary approaches to understanding gendered spatial equity in the urban environment.

Contentious Cities: Design and the Gendered Production of Space positions design as a central component in how cities produce, construct, represent and materialise gendered spatial practices, it brings together practice and theory to critique, question and enable solutions that challenge the root causes of gender inequalities in cities. Through a rich array of case-studies, practice-led interventions, and historical and theoretical perspectives, it examines important issues that affect the ways in which women, and people of diverse gender and sexual identities experience and participate in cities.

Research Team:  Dr Jess Berry, MADA; Timothy Moore, MADA; Associate Professor Nicole Kalms, MADA; Associate Professor Gene Bawden, MADA.

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Audit | Merri Creek, Coburg, Safety Audit

Women’s Safety Audits: A transformative approach to safety in the city.

Safety for women in public spaces is complex. Women experience public places differently to men mainly because of gender-based violence and the gender-biased built environment. Women’s voices about their own safety are often marginalised and neither heard nor understood by those who determine how space is designed and governed. It is crucial that women’s voices become integrated in research and strategies to redress women’s safety issues in public space.

Women’s Safety Audits provide a proven method to ensure women’s experiences and knowledge are platformed and valued when looking to change or create public spaces. Their purpose is to garner from local female users of a place their experiences and perceptions of safety and unsafety at the site, what physical or temporal aspects are contributing to these, and what they advise would help.

Read the Merri Creek Safety Survey Report

Investigators:  Dr Gill Matthewson Timothy Moore, MADA; Associate Professor Nicole Kalms, MADA; Georgia Johnson, MADA

Co-Investigators: Associate Professor Gene Bawden, MADA; Dr Jess Berry, MADA; Isabella Webb, MADA

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Project | HyperSext City

Drawing attention to the experiences of women, girls and LGBTQI+ communities by presenting data and intersectional narratives of gender.

Making gender data visible, and generating new sources of data based on lived experience are essential tools in developing gender-sensitive approaches to design, architecture and urbanism. Through the multi-modal tools of crowd-sourcing, co-creation and material making, HyperSext City surfaces, activates and amplifies the voices and experiences of a diverse range of people who are not often heard. positions design as a central component in how cities produce, construct, represent and materialise gendered spatial practices, it brings together practice and theory to critique, question and enable solutions that challenge the root causes of gender inequalities in cities. Through a rich array of case-studies, practice-led interventions, and historical and theoretical perspectives, it examines important issues that affect the ways in which women, and people of diverse gender and sexual identities experience and participate in cities.

Research Team:  Associate Professor Gene Bawden, MADA; Associate Professor Nicole Kalms, MADA; Dr Jess Berry, MADA; Dr Gill Matthewson, MADA; Timothy Moore, MADA; Isabella Webb, MADA; Georgia Johnson, MADA; Anwyn Hocking, MADA

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XYX Lab

Gender + Place

XYX Lab is a team of experienced design researchers exploring gender-sensitive design practices and theory. Our work operates at the intersection of gender, identity, urban space and advocacy. Through our research, we bring together planners, policy makers, local government and stakeholders to make tangible the experiences of underrepresented communities in urban space and planning.

XYX Lab is grounded in feminist and queer theory and activated through real-world projects. Our approach is inclusive of all gender and sexual identities. Building equity into urban life requires long-term vision and a strategic - often radical - approach to the design process. We do not seek quick-fix design solutions, but rather seek to offer insights and create moments that contribute towards a larger movement for change.

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Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre

The Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre is at the forefront of research and education aimed at preventing family violence. The centre is contributing to transformative social change aimed at ending family violence by providing an evidence base for policy change that better supports and protects those experiencing family violence and addresses the cultural and economic drivers that underpin it.

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Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre

Monash Gender, Peace & Security Centre is a research centre focused on issues of gender, peace and security. Our vision is to build globally-recognised, gender-inclusive research evidence to deliver peace and security globally. We seek to use our research to inform scholarly debate, policy development and implementation, and public understanding about the gendered nature of insecurity and the search for peace.

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Global and Women's Health

Global and Women's Health seeks to promote health for all and to reduce health inequalities. In our Women’s Health research, we aim to understand the effects of gender on health and to reduce the health inequalities experienced by women and girls. We encourage and participate in research with other countries and with non-university groups and organisations. With our partners and collaborators we develop ways of using the results of research to inform policy and practice. Our research methods include those that encompass whole populations and those designed to understand the perspectives and experiences of individual people.

We collaborate with partners in universities, research institutes, government, the private sector, civil society, health services, and health professionals in Australia and globally. These partnerships enable our research to be informed by community perspectives, translated to inform policy and practice, and accessible to individuals, their families, and their healthcare providers.

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