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November 21, 2005

Sorry, Wrong Number.

So the WTO (World Toilet Organisation) is proposing that there should be mandatory rules about the number of female places in toilets:

The code requires medium-sized restaurants, bars and nightclubs to have as many female cubicles as they have male cubicles and urinals.

Larger venues, and those such as theatres and cinemas where usage is confined to peak periods, would have to favour women's facilities by a ratio of 14:10.

"It's very important where there are a lot of people," said Elisabeth Maria-Huba, a German social scientist.

"Women need longer. And in a lot of cases women have to arrange themselves to go out again."

Leave aside what I consider to be the absurdity of such rules and regulations in and of themselves. Private property owners should decide for themselves how they wish to cater to their clientele.

What’s worse is that they’ve got the number wrong. The longer period of time women take for their ablutions means that 14:10 is not enough. I’ve seen somewhere out there (Brian Caplan maybe?) a neat piece of maths which shows that the facilities required go up in a geometric progression, so that in fact we need, in large venues, 2 or even 4 times as many female places as male.

So, an international bureaucracy trampling on private property rights and at the same time getting the answer wrong. Colour me surprised.

November 21, 2005 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


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Posted by: Anoneumouse | Nov 21, 2005 10:06:14 AM

However I bet women would be crying "sexists!" if you charged them 4+ times more for a visit...

Posted by: Rob Read | Nov 21, 2005 11:01:50 AM

Gorse Fox thinks they should be told to "bog off"

Posted by: Gorse Fox | Nov 21, 2005 11:26:25 AM

How is issuing guidelines 'trampling on private property rights'?

Tim adds: By their incorporation into building codes?

Posted by: Matthew | Nov 21, 2005 12:19:03 PM

Why not mixed facilities? this would solve the dilemma.

Posted by: the-man-in-black | Nov 21, 2005 2:04:12 PM

Tim you mustn't make the mistake of including the time we spend in there that doesn't require (cough) seating.
For a start we are usually pretty scrupulous about washing our hands. Then we have to attend to our hair and fix our lipstick.
On top of all that there is blethering time when our friends arrive. Which inevitably leads to a few catty remarks about the ladies who aren't there.
Actually, it's not so much cubicles we need so much as a nice big conference room, with mirrors of course.....

Posted by: Monty | Nov 21, 2005 2:20:15 PM

It is all very well saying that private owners can decide this for themselves, but this assumes that private owners have given this two seconds thought. Just as an illustration, I had the pleasure of working once at a building firm where I spied the layout of a club being worked on. When I noticed that the design showed 3 cubicles and 5 urinals for men, and 4 cublicles of women, and pointed out that this might result in queues outside the Ladies', I was met with surprise and bewilderment. They just hadn't noticed. And certainly didn't care - the design wasn't changed.

It could be that they were bad at designing buildings, but any woman will tell you that this is the norm. In this case, the market has singularly failed to provide - there is no better alternative that consumers can choose.

Posted by: Katherine | Nov 21, 2005 4:32:08 PM

This toilet sex ratio thing is silly when the bureaucrats think it must be solved by fiat. However it does cause much inconvenience.

I went to the opening of a new concert hall last month. The men had good access the women were in lines of at least 20 people. Since the design was new the architects and planners had no excuse.

Posted by: K | Nov 21, 2005 6:30:17 PM