Virginia Santy

Women-first Design: An Idea That's Time Has Come

Direct Object Co-founder and CEO Virginia Santy’s work for and on behalf of women in Denver was recently featured in 5280’s piece, It’s a Man’s World But It Doesn’t Have to Be. The premise: could Denver be the first U.S. city designed for women? If our fair Ginna (below!) has her way, it very well may be.


But before we understand where Denver is going, it’s important to acknowledge where we are:

“(Santy) wants to understand how we got to a place where, every day, women encounter too-heavy doors (often built to be opened easily by the average middle-aged man, who weighs 201.7 pounds), endure frigid office temperatures (standards set in the 1960s when fewer women worked in offices), and lose time searching for spaces to breastfeed. Cumulatively, these design choices force women to endure what Santy calls ‘death by a thousand paper cuts.’

“These cuts, one after the other, don’t just make women uncomfortable or frustrated. ‘My argument is it shows women we don’t value them,’ Santy says. ‘We don’t even value 50.8 percent of the population enough to see the ways we might be presenting little challenges to it. And we certainly don’t value it enough to address them.’”

The article goes on to explain how Ginna brought her groundbreaking idea to Tami Door and the Downtown Denver Partnership. The resulting initiative, Designing a City for Women as an Economic Imperative, has been created to support, attract and retain women workers in Denver. As Door explains, “‘Our goal is to be the first center city in the world that has a strategy and a platform specifically focused on women and meeting their needs.’”

Be sure to click through to read more about Ginna’s innovative ideas, and keep your eyes on this space – and the Denver skyline – for updates.