Evaluating Structural Awareness of Community Members through Observations of Fixed Exclusions in the Built Environment
The purpose of this study is to examine the baseline level of structural competency present in the general public and determine whether or not an individual’s demographics meaningfully affect this knowledge. This aim was accomplished by analyzing observational data from a citizen social science (CSS) project. Undergraduate students enrolled in the “Urban and Environmental Health” course described in Ruth et al. (2020) trained and recruited 165 CSS to record observations of fixed exclusions of women, minorities/Latinx, and large bodied people in the built environment. Participants walked along nine distinct transects in downtown Tempe, Arizona and recorded their observations. Of the 165 initial participants, 134 satisfactorily completed the task and were included in the statistical analysis. The observations of each CSS were scored against a gold standard, yielding a percent of observations observed for each exclusion category. Statistical analysis using Aligned Rank Transform (ART) Factorial ANOVA and Mann-Whitney U Tests were then employed to test for differences in the number of observations across demographic categories and subcategories. Among the main demographic factors, ethnicity produced a statistically significant difference in observations, but only for gendered exclusions. For the demographic subcategories, the only significant difference was observed in men, where ethnicity and body size both showed an effect on observations of women and ethnicity respectively. Due to the large similarity in observations across demographic categories, any interventions aimed at increasing the structural competency of a population need not target specific groups, but rather the population as a whole.