Gendered Spaces

By Daphne Spain

314 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4357-4
    Published: March 1992
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-6467-8
    Published: November 2000
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6688-2
    Published: November 2000

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Awards & distinctions

A 1993 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

In hundreds of businesses, secretaries -- usually women -- do clerical work in "open floor" settings while managers -- usually men -- work and make decisions behind closed doors. According to Daphne Spain, this arrangement is but one example of the ways in which physical segregation has reinforced women's inequality. In this important new book, Spain shows how the physical and symbolic barriers that separate women and men in the office, at home, and at school block women's access to the socially valued knowledge that enhances status.

Spain looks at first at how nonindustrial societies have separated or integrated men and women. Focusing then on one major advanced industrial society, the United States, Spain examines changes in spatial arrangements that have taken place since the mid-nineteenth century and considers the ways in which women's status is associated with those changes. As divisions within the middle-class home have diminished, for example, women have gained the right to vote and control property. At colleges and universities, the progressive integration of the sexes has given women students greater access to resources and thus more career options. In the workplace, however, the traditional patterns of segregation still predominate.

Illustrated with floor plans and apt pictures of homes, schools, and work sites, and replete with historical examples, Gendered Spaces exposes the previously invisible spaces in which daily gender segregation has occurred -- and still occurs.

About the Author

Daphne Spain is James M. Page Professor and Chair, Department of Urban & Environmental Planning in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. She is author of How Women Saved the City.
For more information about Daphne Spain, visit the Author Page.


"Gendered Spaces is a work of vaulting ambition and synthesis. Daphne Spain is asking about the relations among gender, power, and space, our dwellings and domains. In the future, students of each must confront her probing questions and her challenging answers."--Catharine R. Stimpson, Rutgers University

"An original combination of sociology and architectural design provides a convincing lesson on the association between gender stratification and spatial segregation. . . . Truly interdisciplinary, this work will support studies in anthropology, sociology, architecture, design, and of course gender."--Choice

"This fascinating, scholarly examination delves deeply into the impact of spatial constraints upon women's access to a variety of resources, and ultimately, to gender equality."--Booklist

"How does the organization of spaces--exterior locales and interiors for living, work and worship--reflect and determine gender relations? . . . Spain details this fascinating topic with an impressive variety of examples, tables and interpretations of popular documents such as back issues of House Beautiful."--Publishers Weekly

"Daphne Spain has written an original, challenging and enlightening book. From ceremonial men's huts in non-industrial cultures to nineteenth-century American vernacular architecture, her broad yet careful comparisons provide a topography of gender inequality and a blueprint for change."--Michael Kimmel, State University of New York at Stony Brook