‘Potty Parity’ hearing set for today

Amid a disastrous oil spill, a
Supreme Court nomination
and the ongoing
financial regulatory reform debate
, some lawmakers will spend a few
hours on Wednesday worrying about restrooms. Specifically, restrooms in
federal buildings.

Crack all the jokes you want, but advocates think it’s a big deal. Most federal buildings are about 40 years old and current federal
standards still allocate more restrooms for men than women. Legislation
introduced by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) tries to
right the imbalance by requiring an equal number of bathroom fixtures
for men and women in buildings owned and leased by the feds.

Kathryn H. Anthony, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture, will appear before
Towns’s House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee
on Wednesday to talk about an issue
“near and dear to the hearts and bladders of women and children all
across the United States,” according to her prepared testimony.

The problem is rooted in an era “where women were not as prevalent in the public realm and in the workforce as we are today,” she’ll say.
“Until recently, most architects, contractors, engineers, building code
officials, and clients were not concerned about this issue. They rarely
contacted women about their restroom needs, women were rarely employed
in these male-dominated professions, nor were they in a position to
effect change.”

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