Thursday, October 01, 2020

The Sexist Streets of Berlin

Around 25% of Berlin's streets are named after individual people. Of those streets over 88% are named for men and only 11% are named for women.

You can explore Berlin's sexist street names for yourself on EqualStreetNames: Berlin, an interactive map which colors all the city's streets based on whether they are named for men or women (or gender neutral). On the map streets which have been named after men are colored yellow and streets named for women have been colored red. EqualStreetNames: Berlin also includes a graph which shows the percentage of the city's streets named for men and women.

The Berlin map uses a methodology first developed for EqualStreetNames: Brussels, an interactive map which visualizes the inequality between male and female street names in the Belgium capital. The code and methodology developed for the Brussels map has also been used to create:

Geochicas has been at the forefront of revealing the under-representation of women in street names by building interactive maps showing the distribution of streets named for women and men in many different cities. Las Calles de las Mujeres is an interactive map which reveals all the streets named for men and women in a number of cities in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

A number of other interactive mapping projects have explored the sexist culture of naming streets in other cities around the world.

You can learn more about German street names in a fascinating Zeit Online analysis of the most popular German street names.

In Streetscapes: Mozart, Marx and a Dictator Zeit Online explores how there is a distinct east-west split to some German street names, which owes a lot to the differing politics of the former East and West Germany. One thing that is probably true in both east & west is that women are much less likely to be commemorated by having streets named for them than men. For example in Hamburg 2,511 streets are named after men and only 397 are named after women.

As well as exploring the distribution of male and female street names Zeit Online has also analysed which periods of history are commemorated in Berlin's street names. The most popular period is the era of the German Empire (1870–1918). The Nazi era is, for obvious reasons, very unpopular and "all street signs bearing the names of leading figures in the Nazi era have been removed." However you can still find street names from that period in Germany which "typify their ideology".   

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