“I blame women for not being more confident” and other things that you should not do

Yesterday one of our very accomplished adjuncts and alumni and I were having a conversation about how different the male and female students were as presenters during their comp exam. We had young women with really great work who undersold it so that it looked merely adequate, and young men with acceptable work who acted like they had just invented the internet. Now, I am proud of all of my students, and my characterization here is a generalization. But it happened enough during the day that my compadre noticed it.

We discussed how lack of confidence affects young women’s careers in consulting. In my case, it lead me to stand behind a much more voluble man for years while I produced analysis after analysis for him. I never learned to sell myself the way he did, and as a result, people credited him with the originality and technical skill that I had actually contributed.

This obviously has consequences for pay, and my compadre said to me, as we were drinking coffee, “You know, I think the pay gap is really women’s fault, for not being more confident.”

Um, no.

You can’t just expect somebody to be confident when they are told from the minute they enter this world that they can’t be any good at anything besides being pretty, taking care of other people, deferring, or being nice. And you can’t expect them to be assertive when every time they are assertive, they are punished either socially or professionally, and usually both.

On not meaning to undercut women’s leadership and doing it anyway

I had a Thing happen this weekend, with the usual conditions in play: very nice, well-intentioned men who outrank me making decisions on my behalf, trying to be helpful, and, in the end, sending both me and all the young women involved the message: women can’t lead.

So it involved a voluntary service task whereby I and another senior, male faculty were assigned to lead PhD students. It was a three-day commitment, and my faculty partner was unable to come the second day, and so I went in, thinking that I would handle the students on my own, only to walk in to find the leader of the effort had, simply, reassigned the students to different groups and taken all responsibility out of my hands.

The message: you can’t be trusted with students on your own. You can’t lead. I was annoyed. I could have slept an hour longer, dude!! UUUUUH???

But I just went to my office and worked on my own stuff. It’s my standard response to the Planning Patriarchy when it rejects my attempts to Do Things and Participate: Look, if you aren’t going to use my human capital for your benefit, I shall use it for mine.

I’m sure the person in question thought he was being nice–he apologized later, and said he intended to save me work, and truth be told, I think students should ideally work with multiple groups of faculty and fellow students. And I got a lot of work done. So for all practical purposes, it was fine.

It did, however, demonstrate a pretty bad model for all the young women in the room. I should, I guess, have been more assertive in saying that no, I can lead a group on my own, and stood up for my right to have been included in the decision involving my own efforts. Had the guy asked, I would said, sure, no problem, I’ll stay home and work, reassign the groups.

But I was flustered, and I am shy to begin with, and to be dismissed like that in front of an entire room of students was…awful.

There comes a point where, when you say to somebody “you can’t lead” enough times, that they begin to believe you.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #14: Deike Peters

Deike Peters is assistant professor of environmental planning and practice at Soka University of America. I first encountered Deike when she very kindly taught a planning studio for us at USC. She has an interest in land development around stations, and she has worked extensively trying to understand the land use conflicts at high speed rail station areas. She co-edited a special issue of Built Environment on the topic, Volume 38 from 2012, Number 2. (As an aside Built Environment is one of those journals that doesn’t get the attention it should.)

This is the paper I’m reading:

Peters, D., with Novy, J. (2012) “Train Station Area Development Mega-Projects in Europe – Towards a Typology” Built Environment, 38:1, 12-30

In this manuscript, Peters and Novy draw a distinction between transit-oriented development (TOD) and train-station area development (TSAD) as they look at the land development resulting from European high speed rail projects, where TSAD is looking to develop an area broader than a general TOD. They discuss the possibilities for TSAD as part of sustainable development, where redevelopment generates higher quality, and more, pedestrian possibilities surrounding the station following changeover in land uses away from industrial use. (This strikes me as interesting; plenty of high speed rail companies are also hauling freight as well as passengers, so at least some of the station areas have to be in warehousing and distribution use. There’s really no reason, other than scale perhaps, that these uses can’t be integrated with pedestrian and other uses, though.) Right along with the intention for sustainable development also come the same same growth machine aspects that development in cities always have, but with a 21st century, neoliberal twist. Peters and Novy place the redevelopment project in the ongoing history of urban place competition. They look at the European projects:

Combing through a list of over 500 rail station sites in 437 cities, the sheer number TSAD projects already built or currently underway proved impressive. We identified 136 projects with investments of €100 million or more, including fifty-two with total investments of €500 million or more. Projects proliferated in cities of varying sizes across a whole range of nations, including countries with comparatively less developed rail networks such as Portugal or Bulgaria. Our inventory recorded both the highest number and the largest investments in Germany and Great Britain.

So they comb through and find the biggest. It’s not clear from the article why they choose the biggest, but I think it’s because those larger projects best mirror their concept of TSAD rather than TOD. From these, they derive four general types of TSAD types: strategic megaprojects, station renaissance projects, transport projects, and urban development projects.

Strategic megaprojects are those that are “big” and “bold”, though, as the authors point out, not necessarily beautiful. These draw on supra-regional rationales (often using “Europe” in project name to signal the elevation of this place within the hierarchy of places) and they usually involve a lot of money, an ambitious plan for multiple transport and land uses, and entail complex, multi-government governance agreements.

Station renaissance projects are just what they sound like: the chance to get an upgrade on existing, historic buildings by putting new services and amenities inside, drawing on the grand style architecture to enhance place experience in commerce.

Transport projects, too, are just what they sound like. They are designed to made an intermodal hub where the transport functions go first and the place functions take on a lower priority.

Urban development projects are the opposite: the main point seems to be to get in and do something with the land and the buildings, and the transport functions are coincident, but less a priority. These strike me as the HSR version of TOD, conducted on a larger scale.

The remainder of the discussion takes on emerging issues, and of those, I think the most interesting is just how large the projects are becoming–Peters refers to “Gigaprojects” and to community opposition that has arisen, particularly to the idea of local area development serving supra-regional interests, and the changes that opposition has enacted on building practices and development ideas.

This is a very nice discussion of the unfolding development of Europe’s HSR development; go read!

Mark Edmundson on campus rape

I’ve been reading through Mark Edmundson’s Why Teach this week, and this paragraph caught my eye:

Colleges are even leery of disciplining guys who have committed sexual assault, or assault plain and simple. Instead of being punished, these guys frequently stay around, strolling the quad and swilling the libations, an affront (and sometimes a terror) to their victims.

This is a chapter where Edmundson has described the consumer universe of the corporate campus. Grade inflation? Looking the other way for cheaters? Come on. When campuses look the other way for felonies, they aren’t going to worry much about the other contours of character formation.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #12 Kristen Jeffers, the Black Urbanist blog

We’re in the middle of commencement, and my next research entry is a book, so I am a little behind and I thought I was use this week to direct you to the very nice blogging of Kirsten Jeffers of the Black Urbanist. Her writing is accessible, and her relationship with things urban is delightfully personal. Here is the link to the blog so you can get over there and set it up in your feed: The Black Urbanist. And here are some of my favorite recent posts get you started:

Things that should never be in driving distance

Can we let people gentrify themselves?

This breaktakingly sensible post about cars: What Grinds Our Gears About Cars

Whose Suburb Are We Talking About, Again?:

But enough of this kind of snark. Let me get to the real shade. Urban is not a race of people. Suburb is not a race of people. Rural is not a race of people. Say it as many times as you need to. Then, if you write articles like this that either by accident or lack of inclusiveness, imply that only one race of person moves to and from the suburbs, don’t be surprised if they get interpreted as attempts to be nice about labeling races, instead of true analyses of migration patterns.

Go read and share.

Danielle Henderson on GoT, summing up why I refused to watch from the beginning

Danielle Henderson writes for The Gaurdian:

I’m exhausted by the triumph of men at the expense of women as a narrative device. It’s not only boring, but also a little too tied to my real-world experience as a woman and person of color for me to look at these shows objectively and give them a pass – not when the television industry is so criminally underdeveloped in hiring or telling the stories of minority populations.

Fantasy stories can be great. They really can. It’s also a genre that illustrates just how women-hating male fantasy can be. I read Martin’s first book, and rolled my eyes. If this is strong woman material (which it’s not), then when chewed through television writers’ minds, it was going to get worse. A lot worse. And it seems to have.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #10: Petra Doan

I first met Petra in 2002 or 2003, I’m not sure, when I was in gradual school at UCLA and my advisor convinced me to go on a field trip on Columbia, Maryland, led by the brilliant Ann Forsyth. The year ACSP was in Baltimore. Yeah. 100 years ago.

Anyway, the US was racing into Iraq, and I was in my typical mindset of waffling angst: hating unilateral military invasion unsupported by allies, deploring Saddam Hussein at the same time, and not at all sure what to think. Petra was on the tour, as well, and she was wearing a button that said “I love the Iraqi people.” It was such a thoroughly apt reflection of the one thing that I did understand about the whole situation that I immediately became a fangirl of Petra’s, and I have followed her writing and leadership at ACSP on LGBT issues ever since.

I am particularly fond of this paper:

Doan, . L., & Higgins, H. (2011). The demise of queer space? Resurgent gentrification and the assimilation of LGBT neighborhoods. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 31(1), 6-25. doi:10.1177/0739456X1039126

This manuscript examines outcomes for LGBT communities in Atlanta, using a case study and interview method. There’s a lot of material here that is interesting, and I am somewhat pressed for time here to really do it justice, but the basic premise of the article is to examine how planning disrupts and commodifies LGBT communities in metro Atlanta. They examine nine communities: five for both lesbian and gay residents, and one community, Virginia Highlands, served both groups. Gay enclaves included N. Druid Hills (best name ever), Midtown, N. Atlanta, and Midtown. Lesbian enclaves included S.Columbia-Forest Hills, Candler Park/Lake Claire, Glenwood Estates, and Decatur-downtown.

Doan and Higgs discuss how LGBT groups inhabited older suburbs abandoned by affluent whites during post-war suburbanization. There, small LGBT businesses developed and thrived. As Atlanta attempted to shake off its “poster child for sprawl” image, planning began to treat these neighborhoods as possible places for infill and change. The best part of this manuscript, for me, is the content analysis of the plans for these neighborhoods, along with the critique of the zoning decisions. In plan after plan, agencies just couldn’t deal with the LGBT residents of those communities even in a discussion of the demographics of the area. It’s not as though we need anybody to arrive a at some essential “well, gay people live here so we have to plan gay” moment; just the fact that the plans would not mention the possibility that difference existed in these neighborhoods, let alone that LGBT men and women central to the identity of a place, demonstrates that planning wasn’t ready to talk about LGBT places as places. Another, particularly sad example includes zoning decisions that threatened landmark LGBT businesses, including Outwrite Books and Charis Books, through zoning for big box stores to serve new, affluent, hetero residents.

(Outwrite books closed for good in 2012, which is a pretty long time to hold out, but still sad. And even sadder knowing that it was forced out of its original location. Charis books lives on.

The desire to bring affluent, middle-class families back to downtown and interior suburbs (I’m not sure it makes sense to talk about ‘rings’ for Atlanta any more than it does for LA) subsequently has dispersed LGBT residents throughout the region, with the impression, for some, that these enclaves became less supportive environments. Nonetheless, interviewees still long for shared life and community; it’s not as though “everybody is so tolerant you can live anywhere” and that’s why LGBT residents are dispersing. Instead, it’s that many, particularly young LGBT renters can’t afford to live in these neighborhoods anymore. When unable to afford the longstanding LGBT enclaves, respondents discuss their desire for diverse environments and affordability–a preference that leads them to African American and mixed neighborhoods where racial tensions arise where some of the hardest hit are people of color priced out of those markets as well.

A key point for me in this manuscript was how central LGBT businesses are to possible preservation efforts. I know very little about historic preservation, so perhaps this point is less impactful than I think, but it was eye-opening to me to see just how pivotal these businesses were.

Go read, go read, go read, my friends.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #9: Ann Markusen

So Ann Markusen is a professor at the Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota, and she is the director of the Project on Regional and Industrial Economics.

I knew that I was going to include Ann Markusen in this discussion because she was an early influence on me. I came to planning from economics, and this does a lot of things to color your viewpoint, but one of the things it does, depending on how you were trained, is to make you perpetually skeptical of economic development. “Transfer effects” you sniff. Human capital development, you’ll buy. Place-based efforts? Eh. Transfer effects that foster either gentrification or throwing good money after bad.
You then view the people who foster such practices as well-intended ninnies who don’t get they are encouraging destructive competition between places and subjecting their own to winner’s curses.

This is wrong, but you don’t get to be the sort arrogant old person I am without being an arrogant young person first, and so this dialogue of sorts rummaged through my brain quite a bit in my classes about economic development at the University of Iowa when I was a master’s student. I did have excellent instructors there, Alan Peters and Heather MacDonald, who have since moved to more tropical environs, as anybody who lives in Iowa for too long really owes it to oneself to do.

All those self-indulgent reflections aside, Ann Markusen’s writing and thinking blasted into my lack of interest in economic development in the mid 1990s. Like Heather and Alan, her writing was, simply, too smart and interesting to ignore. And she did it to me twice. Once with economic development as an overall concept, and then again with arts and culture as part of economic development.

I have generally read everything of Ann’s that I have encountered since 1992 or so, but I know her only in passing. This paper appeared last year (2013) in Work & Occupation. The cite:

Markusen, A. 2013. “Artists Work Everywhere.” Work & Occupations. 40: 481-495.

This is a policy brief, and it aims to examine where artists live and their migration patterns. This is one of those papers that isn’t going to make anybody excited over methods or data; it’s just a report that gets people think differently than they tend to about artists and where/how they live. From La Boheme onward, we’ve had a very particular image of what artists are: young dreamers, struggling to make it in a big market and living, loud and proud, in splendid squalor in the middle of the most romantic downtowns out there: Paris, London and, of course, New York.

Using PUMS data, Markusen demonstrates that this image is a bit off.* There is a sizable number of artists over 65 working in many industries and living about as far outside of bohemian artist garrets as one possibly can. And even in the arts supercities (LA and New York), plenty of artists live in the suburbs in those regions.** Markusen uses location quotients, with caution, to note that LA and New York do have more as a share of total employment than other metro areas, in general, but that those two metro areas only have a little over 10 percent of all those employed in arts and culture industries. They report that second-tier metros like DC, Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis, San Diego, and Miami also have higher shares than the national average.

The more interesting story concerns migration and reverse migration among artists. Migration to and from supercities for artists splits by type of artist and by age. Up to about age 35, artists flock to the supercities. Artists over 35, when they move, tend to move away from the supercities:

Qualitative work and case studies suggest that many reverse migrants, especially visual artists and writers but also musicians, are seasoned, successful, midcareer people who have both gallery represen- tation and publishers in arts market cities or who can travel to act or perform anywhere. Two well-documented cases—New York Mills (MN) and Arnaudville (LA)—involve visual artists who not only chose to live in small towns for amenities, affordable quality workspace, and family reasons but also brought skills that transformed their towns and communities. Painter John Davis bought a roomy farmhouse and barn in rural New York Mills, many hours from a major metro, to paint in peace, and ended up spearheading the creation of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center (Cuesta, Gillespie, & Lillis, 2005; Markusen & Johnson, 2006). Painter George Marks returned home to the tiny hamlet of Arnaudville to care for his dying father and stayed to lead a revitalization effort using visual art, Cajun music, and French language


Paint in peace? What the heck? Hasn’t he read Ed Glaesar? Doesn’t he know that he can only be innovative when he’s got 18 million other people yakking on their cell phones around him?

So some artists move to supercities, find a market and representation, and get their brand established, then move out when they can, probably to paint in peace and not pay out the nose for apartments they have to share with roommates and mega-rats. Or just to go back home, a call I hear now and then myself.

Musicians are the most dispersed of the artists, which I think is very interesting, though I have to admit: I know a lot of studio musicians in LA who live in the Valley. I need to think about this one. And that’s the point. Markusen always makes me think.

*But the fantasy is still pretty cool, except for the dying from TB part, even if that makes for pretty great opera:

**Squalid garrets I suspect are much less fun when Placido Domingo is not your roommate.

#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #8: Kaisa Schmidt-Thome

(not terribly well proofed as I want to get jump-started on my reading and writing again)

So for this week’s entry (actually last week’s, but I am behind, and I’ve decided not to sweat it. I’ve had my own papers to finish last week), I selected:

Schmidt-Thome, K., & Mantysalo, R. (2014). Interplay of power and learning in planning processes: A dynamic view. Planning Theory, 13(2), 115-135. doi:10.1177/147309521349030

I do not know Dr. Schmidt-Thome or Dr. Manytsalo at all. Here is Dr. Schmidt-Thome’s Academia.edu page, where she is listed as faculty at Aalto University. I just happened upon this manuscript when I was catching up on reading Planning Theory, and I liked the paper a great deal. There’s a copy available for download on her Academia.edu page.

So one of the persistent problems we have had in planning theory (and everywhere else) is dealing with power. One take, which thinks about “empowering” communities or individuals, tends to underplay the role that structural differences in power plays in maintaining existing practices. A lot like my problems with Sandberg’s Lean In–well, women would do better in the world if they just asserted themselves. Yes, but they would also do better if people stopped expecting them to do all the work all the time and rewarding men simply for being male. Power taken up from the structural direction causes us problems, too, unless you are of the “we’re doomed” mindset: structural theories of power and how it works often do not help us see how to function within those structures with any real level of agency. Planners can be stooges of big institutions, or failed revolutionaries, and little more in hard structural approaches.

This manuscript helps us out of that problem by examining two, complementary ways of thinking about power. One comes from Lukes’ Power: A Radical View and the other from Bateson Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. Lukes developed a “third dimension” of power that describes the capacity of individuals within structures to exert influence in key ways; Bateson develops a similar concept to the “Third dimension” of individuals within ecology, where power moves throughout a system, back and forth, and to and fro. From there, Schmidt-Thome and Mantysalo draw on the work in planing theory from Patsy Healey to develop a model of learning that reflects ways to crack into “power over” represented in structures. It’s a three-level concept: learning I is what they refer to as “trial-and-error” learning undertaken so that individuals within contexts begin to suss through what is true about the situation. This type of learning changes power over situations as it enables individuals to move to Learning II whereby they change the system simply via understanding it and, thus, changing the capacity of institutions to set the terms of the discussion unchecked. Level III is where the action is: it occurs when the practices embodied in I and II lead to understandings that can’t be reconciled within those levels and require a transformation in conception among learners about selves and systems.

Schmidt-Thome and Mantysalo then illustrate their understanding of learning via looking at the agonistic planning around the high speed rail station in Stuttgart, GR. There has been quite a bit written about this case study from one of my colleagues, Deike Peters, and it’s nice to see people writing about that case from multiple perspectives. Here, the authors trace the social learning aspects of the opposition in such a way that you can see how power shifts via learning across the three levels they discuss. A useful contribution, indeed.