Female traffic signals to go up at pedestrian crossing to combat ‘unconscious bias’

The silhouette of Victoria's first female councillor was installed at pedestrian lights in Richmond last year.

The silhouette of Victoria's first female councillor was installed at pedestrian lights in Richmond last year. Photo: City of Yarra

Pedestrian traffic lights depicting female figures will be installed in Melbourne’s CBD today as a part of a lobby group’s push for gender equality.

Ten female pedestrian figures will be installed on traffic lights at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets as part of a VicRoads-approved 12-month trial.

The Committee for Melbourne — a non-profit organisation comprising more than 120 Melbourne business and community groups — is behind the move.

Chief executive Martine Letts said having only green or red silhouettes of men discriminated against women.

“The idea is to install traffic lights with female representation, as well as male representation, to help reduce unconscious bias,” she said.

Ms Letts said the group wanted to see female and male representation on all pedestrian crossings.

“We know that Melbourne is the world’s most liveable city and we would really like to see Melbourne also known as the world’s most equal city.
“The aim is to move towards one-to-one male and female representation across the state of Victoria.”

It costs an average of $8,400 to change six traffic lights.

Ms Letts said some people had questioned the move, but said the program was backed by Victorian Governor Linda Dessau.

“Some people have expressed a little scepticism wondering whether it’s gesture politics rather than having any real substance,” she said.

“But these symbols are a practical and meaningful way to demonstrate that in fact 50 per cent of our population is female and should therefore also be represented at traffic lights.”

The program has been funded by the Committee for Melbourne and Bayswater company Camlex Electrical.

Last year the City of Yarra paid tribute to Victoria’s first female councillor, Mary Rogers, by placing her silhouette in a pedestrian crossing at a major intersection in Richmond.

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