“Toponymy is not a simple detail or arbitrary process: it is made of political and ideological choices that reinforce hegemonic narratives. It is necessary to reflect on them.” – this is the sentence that closes the description of the project Ruas do Género (Streets of Gender), a visual essay on the representation of gender in the toponymy of the city of Porto, developed by two alumni of the Integrated Master in Informatics and Computing Engineering of FEUP, João Bernardo Narciso and Cláudio Lemos, and that can, and deserves, to be explored: Ruas do Género (ruasdogenero.pt).
This project clearly shows us the overwhelming difference in gender representations in the streets of Porto where 44% are named after men and only 4% are named after women! But not only the number of streets named after women is 11 times smaller than those named after men, but the importance and extension of these streets is also reduced. After organizing them by gender, the researchers come to the conclusion that “not only are women under-represented, but those who name almost all the most prominent streets are saints. Removing the religious and dynastic figures, there remains a minority of streets named after women of letters, artists, teachers, an engineer and a scientist.”
With this work, which shows us the reality not only through numbers but also through visual representation, they hope that future decision making will be facilitated, allowing a greater gender and social representation of the various generations as well as valuing legacies that do not deserve to be forgotten.
“When representation is so unequal and we continue to have streets that pay homage to heroes of the fascist regime or heroes of colonialism instead of representing today’s society, we are choosing badly,” João and Cláudio conclude in a recent interview given to Público.
The project received an honorable mention in The Pudding Cup -The best visual and data-driven stories of 2022 and promises to give more to talk about.
Photo: Adriano Miranda, Jornal Público