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We have a major problem here, and you can help to set it right.

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  • eric.britton@ecoplan.org
    Tuesday, August 10, 2004, Paris, France, Europe Dear Colleagues, We have a major problem here, and you can help to set it right. I have just inspected the
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 10, 2004
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      Tuesday, August 10, 2004, Paris, France, Europe

       

       Dear Colleagues,

       

      We have a major problem here, and you can help to set it right.

       

      I have just inspected the listing of the hundreds of us who are sharing our information and thoughts on these matters of sustainable development and sustainable mobility more specifically, and I note a dangerous anomaly.  We are more than 90% male in this forum

       

      Is this a trivial fact of 21st century life? Unavoidable?  Neither.  In fact, it has long been my belief that one of the main reasons why we have failed over all these years to create better and softer mobility systems in our cities is that we have de facto turned over the job to taskforces almost entirely of men, and not only that men who went to college to learn how to move volumes fast and ‘efficiently’ in rather undifferentiated ways.  We have, I have to say, created an almost all male transportation paradigm.

       

      We need help and we’re lucky -- it is right at hand.  So let’s start with this forum and let me ask each of you to take the time to send me the names and emails of at least two capable female colleagues whom we can bring into our considerations and achieve the kind of balance which has been needed behind the wise decision making in our field for far too long.

       

      Incidentally, if we can find ways to tempt in people with backgrounds that extend beyond the usual limits of the traditionally dominant fields, and in particular in such areas as cultural anthropology, behavioral psychology, community relations, and public health, I think we would be able to make real progress.  (Of course we have to make it interesting for them, but it’s my theory that once we open these doors they will figure out how to do this for themselves.  And change us all in the process.

       

      (I wonder how many of you are going to accept this challenge. ;-)

       

      Eric Britton

       

      The Commons: Increasing the uncomfort zone for hesitant administrators and politicians; pioneering new concepts for business, entrepreneurs, activists, community groups, and local government; and through our joint efforts, energy and personal choices, placing them and ourselves firmly on the path to a more sustainable and more just society.

       

       

       

    • eric.britton@ecoplan.org
      Dear Friends, What can I say but splendid! We are clearly on the right track here. And while thus far I have been receiving responses and nominations by
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 11, 2004
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        Dear Friends,

         

        What can I say but splendid!  We are clearly on the right track here. And while thus far I have been receiving responses and nominations by private mail (which normally we do prefer) I would say in this case since the issues are so very important – this after all is very much what one might reasonably call a ‘shaping initiative’ – I am going to ask you to report back to the group with your nominations, at least in cases where you have something by way of a wake-up call to draw to all our attention.  Here are a handful of the comments that we have received in the first 24 hours on this that fall into this category:

         

        • “I came from a developing country and my background is sociology and I am still in the process of learning the technical field of transportation. I am right now, a transport planning PhD student. And yes, all my professors are male. I also have been in some transport conferences and  unfortunately, the majority of those who attended are also male. I hope you can encourage  more women to join and participate. ”

        • “I just saw your call and I would like to join in and participate in discussions and development of a less male and increasingly sustainable transport paradigm. I am researcher in Peace and Development Research and mostly focusing on issues of mobility and cities. ”

        • I would also add that style and tone of discussions may also have something to do with it. Guys tend to seek victory in their participation, whether through "robust argument", inflicting crushing defeat on the opposition, or carefully structured arguments designed to show futility of alternative viewpoints. Not everyone considers this to be 'discussion', and some will avoid participation in what they perceive to be a gladiatorial pit.”

        • “In Bogotá we have done research on why the people who are part of a transport organization are mainly men, and found really nice things, especially when we saw the specific cases in which women were managers or drivers of bus companies. Thus, the same reflection applied to this group might prove more interesting. Why is it that women don't participate in these things? Does someone have any research on women's relationship with the topic of transport? Is it the same gender-biased question as is "Why don't men like cutting flowers and smelling them?" I'm willing to do some research on the first topic (being a psychologist), want to join me?”

        • Well, I'm female (and, incidentally, a wheelchair user so that makes me even more strange in the transport world).  I don't post much at the moment, since I'm up to my neck in work (I'm a consultant - what does that say about the transport world not employing females or disabled people) and research for my doctorate on valuation frameworks for inclusive transport, for which I hope to pick some of your brains in due course.....  But I do read your words of wisdom avidly and I shall chip in when I'm moved to say something worthwhile (actually, research indicates that women take up less air time than men in meetings - I don't know if that applies to email discussion groups).  And I'll find a woman colleague or two to join us, hopefully.

        • “I find that despite the fact that the environment community is overwhelmingly female, the transport community is overwhelmingly male.  Thus, it seems that for sustainable transport to happen, there must be a marriage of the two! ”

        • “Here are some candidates I would recommend. But let me warn you, they are all tough cookies and may offer more than “soft” options that we may to expect from women, but I’m sure they will add strength to the forum – if they choose to actively participate in the discussions.”

        “Tough cookies”. Not bad, eh?  And no doubt we all need more of this kind of leadership and support.

         

        So, I hope that this will encourage those of you who have not yet picked up your pens and made your nominations and suggestions to do exactly this.  We will all be better for it.

         

        Eric Britton

         

         

        The Commons: Increasing the uncomfort zone for hesitant administrators and politicians; pioneering new concepts for business, entrepreneurs, activists, community groups, and local government; and through our joint efforts, energy and personal choices, placing them and ourselves firmly on the path to a more sustainable and more just society.

         

         

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