Monday, March 26, 2018

Sexist Street Names


Earlier this year Zeit Online released a fascinating analysis of the most popular German street names. As part of this investigation they looked into how street names reflect society's prejudices, beliefs and attitudes. One thing the project revealed was the under-representation of women in city street names.

In Streetscapes: Mozart, Marx and a Dictator Zeit Online looks at the trends of naming streets for people and historical events. One thing that they discovered is that streets are far more likely to be named for men than they are for women. For example in Hamburg 2,511 streets are named after men and only 397 are named after women.

Zeit are not the only ones to have noticed the lack of representation of women in the names we give to our streets. Geochicas have also been investigating the under-representation of women in street names. They have looked at a number of Latin American and Spanish cities to explore the number of streets named for men compared to women.

Las Calles de las Mujeres is an interactive map which shows all streets named for men and women in Asuncion, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Cochabamba, Lima and Montevideo. In each city roads named for men are colored blue and roads colored yellow have been named for women. The colors on the map provide a quick overview of how many streets have been named for women compared to men. Just to make sure that there is no doubt about the issue the map sidebar also includes a pie chart that shows the percentage of streets named for both men and women in each city.

Las Calles de las Mujeres also aims to celebrate the small percentage of women who have been commemorated by having streets named after them. It has therefore linked to the Wikipedia articles (where available) of the women whose names appear on the map. You can read more about the project (in Spanish) at Geochicas.

Both Zeit Online and Geochicas used OpenStreetMap data to compare the number of streets named for men and women. If you want to create a similar map yourself then you could use Overpass Turbo to explore street names on OpenStreetMap.

If you run a query like:
[out:json];
way({{bbox}})[highway][name];
(._;>;);
out;
in Overpass Turbo then you should be able to get a list of street names from the current map view.
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