Streets and Gender

Aruna Sankaranarayanan

Map Streets and Gender at Mapbox
Statistic by NamSor

Places and streets named after personalities are indicators of social hierarchy in a city. Often, they are as prestigious as the person they are named after, so we studied the distribution and location of gender in eponymous streets and made a map. We looked at the number of roads named after women versus men and their geographical distribution using OpenStreetMap data. To run the analysis, we put together a light script using Turf.js and Tile Reduce and queried OSM QA Tiles.

After filtering tokens like national highways (NH), state highways (SH), crosses, mains, margs, and salais, as well as all neutral names so we could get a clearer sense of the true gender balance, we sent the names to NamSor — a robust API for applied onomastics.

The results were fascinating, and maybe not surprising: streets named after men are more numerous and more centrally located than streets named after women in the metro areas we analyzed. Between Bengaluru, Chennai, London, Mumbai, New Delhi, Paris, and San Francisco, the percentage of streets named after women is an average of 27.5. Among the cities in India, Bengaluru tops the list with 39 percent of streets named after women.