- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Australians in Melbourne have started a 12-month trial to combat “unconscious bias” towards women by installing female traffic light signals.

Streets in Melbourne will soon have at least 10 female pedestrian signals as part of a nonprofit organization’s attempt to promote gender equality. The goal is to one day reach a level of parity in the city between male and female traffic signals.

“The idea is to install traffic lights with female representation, as well as male representation, to help reduce unconscious bias,” said Martine Letts, chief executive of The Committee for Melbourne, a local ABC affiliate reported Monday. “We know that Melbourne is the world’s most livable city and we would really like to see Melbourne also known as the world’s most equal city.”

The group, which boasts an alliance with 120 Melbourne businesses, will pay the $8,400 bill generated for every six traffic lights replaced.

Victorian Gov. Linda Dessau told the station that criticism was not an excuse to abandon the study.

“These symbols are a practical and meaningful way to demonstrate that in fact 50 percent of our population is female and should therefore also be represented at traffic lights,” the official said.

Minister for Women Fiona Richardson echoed the sentiment.

“There are many small — but symbolically significant — ways that women are excluded from public space,” Ms. Richardson said. “A culture of sexism is made up of very small issues, like how the default pedestrian crossings use a male figure — and large issues such as the rate of family violence facing women.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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