Housing and Feminism
Self Build Housing
Training and Technical
Shelter and Service
Planning and Design
Studies of Women's Self Build Housing
Institutional and Organisational Structures
The respondents were asked about their contact with local government employees
during the planning stages. Only one of these women was prepared to give
unqualified praise to her local council and two others had no contact with
local government employees. The reasons for dissatisfaction were listed
as, contact people were "obstructive and unhelpful" and "a
bit stroppy"; one woman said that her council "took a long time
for approval, and gave petty excuses for not granting it straight away"
while another said, "they weren't helpful so we ignored them".
In the process of building their home four of the women had dealings with
local councils, government departments or statutory bodies that were new
to them, or dealt with them in a new way. Three of the four described their
experiences as positive. Three of these women were involved in state housing
authority programs. The fourth woman detailed the following problems with
"The state housing authority didn't make allowances for logical delays
such as the weather or inflation. The Council inspectors were abrupt and
non friendly and seemed to be playing power games, some men seem to enjoy
Two of these women felt that being a woman they were treated a certain way.
There are some strong similarities in the way these women felt about the
way their technical knowledge was called into question by authorities.
"Every time any woman steps out in a technical field and takes a strong
stance she is treated different than if she was a male, we still have to
prove our credibility, you have to prove your better than the best."
"I had to really convince the state housing authority I could do it,
I felt that as a woman this aspect was given extra scrutiny."
Two of the respondents said that they found the officials supportive with
one proviso that "you get the odd one that thinks females can't do
anything, but you get them everywhere". One woman said that she thought
the officials were as supportive as a "person in their organisations"
could be. There is some implication in this statement of the recognition
that being supportive is perhaps not the intention of such organisations.
The only other statement about contact with state and council employees
came from one of the women on a state program who said that the state housing
authority inspector "seemed to think pressure would make me perform
better but I think encouragement works best".
Questions about support from financiers were relevant to four of the builders.
These women had a range of experiences from getting incredible support to
none at all. One said,
"Banks not really interested in loaning to a bunch of women! They wanted
an enormous amount of surety. The vendors were more helpful."