“In recent visits to a variety of eco-communities across Britain and to eco-build sites I have realised quite how gendered everything still is, even in places where you might expect a more ‘progressive’ view. There exists a presumption that men like to build and that women like to garden and cook. When I ask people on site whether this is deliberate, conscious, or a problem, the majority have said ‘it is simply the way things are, men are stronger and can do different jobs to women’. But is determining what we are able to do simply a matter of physical prowess, or are other assumptions made in such statements which we need to disentangle a little?
The assumption that building is a ‘man’s job’ has all sorts of implications for what a woman’ s role in these communities or in building is. In the places I have recently visited it was assumed that childcare is a woman’s job (which remains highly undervalued), and that the support work such as cooking, collecting build materials, multi-tasking all the other things that need doing, just sort of happens. It is rarely acknowledged how much work women are doing on site generally, and particularly to support the build process. The result is that finished buildings which draw attention for their innovation and design are often implicitly attributed to the male who spent most time on it. It becomes ‘Jim’s house’ for example, excluding all the work that others, especially women, have put into it.
It also creates an environment where women’s ideas about building can more easily be perceived as ‘impractical’ or ‘costly’ (both terms heard used to dismiss a woman’s build ideas). So is there a need for a more assertive creation of women’s experimental eco-build spaces? How might houses be different if designed and built by women? Do women approach building differently? That building is still considered a male domain means gender is an important marker of difference when it need not necessarily be so. There are plenty of female architects and some notable eco-builders – Barbara Jones (amazonnails), Brenda Vale (The Autonomous House), Cindy Harris (Centre for Alternative Technology), Paulina Wojciechowska (Earth Hands and Houses), and Rachel Shiamh (Quiet Earth) to name just a few.”
More at the source: Green Building Blog
Gender and Ecobuilding 2: Communication Not Strength
Women Are Full of Common Sense
Thanks again to Jason for these articles.