Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Long Lines for Women’s Bathrooms Could Be Eliminated. Why Haven’t They Been?

The Atlantic
Joe Pinsker


In the three decades since, dozens of cities and states have joined the cause of “potty parity,” the somewhat trivializing nickname for the goal of giving men and women equal access to public toilets. These legislative efforts, along with changes to plumbing codes that altered the ratio of men’s to women’s toilets, have certainly helped imbalances in wait times, but they haven’t come close to resolving them.

“It still remains a huge problem today, overall,” says Kathryn Anthony, an architecture professor at the University of Illinois who has studied the issue for more than a decade. The issue persists for many reasons: the exigencies of real estate, the building codes that govern construction, and, of course, sexism.


Chwedyk told me about the variety of ways in which building design does account for occupants’ time. Most urgently, developers bring in experts who estimate how long it takes to exit a building, in case of an emergency. Less life-threatening considerations get attention, too. There are traffic consultants who model the building’s contributions to nearby congestion, and even estimators of elevator wait times. But it’s rare for developers to undertake any sort of timing study for bathrooms, even though it’s not clear that waiting for a toilet is any less important than waiting for an elevator.


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