Toward a gender-sensitive interpretation of urban residential areas : empirical analysis of Montreal and Saskatoon
The purpose of this dissertation is to address the critique made by certain feminist and social geographers concerning the lack of "gender sensitivity" seen to characterize the interpretation of the social residential structures of urban residential areas. More specifically, the dissertation focuses on the multivariate factor ecological approach. The main goal is to assess whether or not a gender-sensitive interpretation of the social structure of the "regions" within cities can provide a more realistic portrait of the Canadian urban reality than is already provided in the current factor ecological literature. Two paths, one dealing with theoretical and methodological issues, and a second more empirical in focus, are followed. Results show that although there exist gender differences between female and male social areas, these are only minor ones. The argument is made that feminists may have overlooked the importance of ecological processes in their critique of factorial ecology and overestimated the role of women in new patterns of social variation. A gender-sensitive interpretation of the social structure of the "regions" within cities, therefore, seems to add only few new insights to our understanding of the urban mosaic. Whether this is the direct result of a lack of spatial segregation of female characteristics within cities, or whether this is mostly due to a shortage of appropriate census data, is difficult to ascertain. The complexities of interrelationships between women and men in all facets of urban life make any attempts at distinguishing gender a complicated task.