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Traffic light equality? One city replaces men with women at crossing signals

women symbol traffic lights.jpg

Waiting until the green man signals it’s safe to cross the road has been drummed into us since school.

However, one city wants to have an equal number of men and women represented at its traffic lights to help “reduce unconscious gender bias” and stimulate public discussion.

A 12-month trial replacing 10 of the male symbols with female symbols has kicked off in Melbourne, Australia, with the non-profit lobby group behind it aiming for a 1:1 ratio in the future across the whole Victoria state.

Committee For Melbourne CEO Martine Letts said the campaign – which has been funded by a local company, rather than by taxpayers – had attracted “scepticism” but she was confident the move would make a difference.

Read more: Notorious anti-feminist MP takes spot on Women and Equalities Committee

Speaking to the ABC, she explained: “Some people have expressed a little scepticism wondering whether it's gesture politics rather than having any real substance.

“But these symbols are a practical and meaningful way to demonstrate that in fact 50% of our population is female and should therefore also be represented at traffic lights.”

male female traffic lights

The new symbols were installed at the intersection of Swanston Street and Flinders Street

In a campaign statement on Twitter account @equalcrossings1, the “seemingly innocuous” current system is described as contributing to “an ongoing unconscious bias in society that women are less equal than men” and helps to “build and reinforce stereotypes and ultimately influences the daily decisions that we all make”.

Read more: Harriet Harman: “Don’t turn the clock back on gender equality”

Meanwhile, the ABC reports Victoria’s minister for women, Fiona Richardson, said it would make public space more inclusive of women: “There are many small – but symbolically significant – ways that women are excluded from public space.”

Images: Rex Features


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