Integrating Gender Mainstreaming into U.S. Planning Practice

PAS Memo — November-December 2019

By Sherry Ryan


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Planners seek to create communities of value that benefit all residents and establish local governmental planning processes that are equitable and just. But while much attention has been paid to historic inequities in outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities and low-income households, this conversation has not addressed unequal outcomes by gender.

Increasingly, evidence suggests that men and women have different wants and needs when it comes to built environments, public services, and amenities, and that planning interventions may not meet all those differing needs, especially those of women. It is time for planning approaches in the United States to take a fresh look at the role gender plays in community building, as this historically excluded group comprises half of our communities’ populations. When women are not well supported, communities are not well supported.

This PAS Memo explores gender mainstreaming, a relatively well-established governing and policy-making strategy employed most notably by the European Union to address the persistent imbalance in women’s access to and control of resources, and explains how it can — and why it should — be integrated into U.S. planning practice.

Learn More

Looking to dive even deeper? Then explore gender-inclusive language in planning. Thi s recent edition of PAS QuickNotes explains the importance of using gender-inclusive language in planning and offers examples of gender-inclusive practices and approaches for planners.


Page Count
Date Published
Nov. 1, 2019
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

Sherry Ryan
Dr. Sherry Ryan is a Professor of City Planning and the Director of the School of Public Affairs.Her research interests focus on active transportation planning, travel behavior/land use interactions, and community health. She has published numerous journal articles on travel behavior, land use patterns, and the built environment’s effects on health. She has also served as a consultant project manager for several significant local and regional planning efforts including SANDAG’s first ever regional bicycle plan in 2010. She is nationally recognized for leading the development and implementation of regional active travel data collection programs in San Diego, Maricopa County, Arkansas, and Los Angeles.