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RESEARCH | Care, Commuting & Career: Gender & Flexible Work Centres in Melbourne

Women’s participation in the workforce has increased over some decades. However, recent studies reveal that the structure of cities and the relationship between places of work and residence continues to impact on women’s access to, and participation in, employment, particularly for women living in Melbourne’s outer suburban areas.

Recognising discrepancies between female and male workforce participation rates, Linda has produced a research paper that examines gender impacts of Melbourne’s metropolitan planning and structure with respect to the everyday and spatio-temporal experiences of women. It observes a lack of gender awareness or gender mainstreaming in the city’s metropolitan planning resulting in oversight of the differentiated ways in which men and women experience urban space.

Without gender awareness and feminist analysis, gender roles can be affirmed and/or ‘retraditionalised’ in a shifting context through planning. Plan Melbourne’s provisions are addressed in relation to emerging and flexible paradigms of post-industrial and knowledge-based urban development and planning, which support highly individualised and self-organising propensities such as ‘anywhere working’ and co-working. Such formulations tend to be ‘gender blind’ and opt for generalised ideas of work/life balance.

Drawing on the Amsterdam experience, a case study of the development and use of flexible work centres, as an emerging service, and planning and/or infrastructure typology, is presented. For gender equity in cities, flexible work centres may experience policy mobility to facilitate workforce participation through clustered services and proximity to places of residence. The essay proposes that Melbourne may be well positioned to investigate a program of flexible work centres across the city to make it more ‘workable’ for women who are endeavouring to reconcile the commuting, career and caring trilogy.

The paper is available online at https://www.academia.edu/6273936/Care_Commuting_and_Career_Flexible_Work_Centres_in_Melbourne

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