Smart Mobility

March 8, 2023

The role of women in mobility

The word perspective refers to a way of looking at or analysing a certain situation. If we apply it to gender, we are talking about analysing the way in which society understands that the sexes should behave in different areas. And one of them is mobility.

On International Women's Day, today we look at mobility from a gender perspective.

Mobility and the gender perspective

Gender perspective is understood as the methodology and mechanisms to identify, question and assess discrimination, inequality and exclusion of women, as well as the actions to be taken to act on gender factors and create the conditions for change to advance in the construction of gender equality.

As a differentiating element in urban mobility, in this article we explain how gender leads to different travel patterns and the importance of taking a gender perspective into account when designing implementation policies and mobility plans.

According to a study carried out by the Woman Forward Foundation, 40% of women's mobility is conditioned by reasons associated with, assumed or assigned by gender roles (childcare, domestic work or caring for the elderly).

To better understand this, we will now explain the differences between the mobility patterns of women and men, since, according to the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge of the Spanish Government, women have more complex mobility patterns due to the persistence of social differences in the roles they assume:

  • They travel less for work and more for shopping and household or care work, which means that their mobility is more circular, i.e. they make journeys with more stops.
  • Women's journeys are shorter and closer, as in more than half of the cases (51.8 %) they are limited to the district of residence.
  • Women are more likely to travel outside peak hours, making their journeys between 11am and 2pm.
  • The method of travel is usually on foot and by public transport: according to the Spanish Directorate General for Reconciliation and Institutional Cooperation for Equal Opportunities, in Madrid 63.3% of journeys made by women are on foot or by public transport.

PT4ME is a campaign of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) that aims to raise awareness and advocate for inclusive public transport to better serve women.

  • They have fewer driving licences or permits, so public transport systems are crucial for them to gain more opportunities and independence, as the lack of mobility and access to transport prevents women from entering the professional market in optimal circumstances.
  • They generally live closer to their place of work: the current context leads them to opt for even less profitable jobs in order to be closer to home and to travel less.

Why are mobility patterns different between men and women?

The causes of these differences can sometimes go unnoticed in our society and the reality is that there are a multitude of variants that condition women as a social group, with women having less access to means of transport than men.

Among the factors involved in these gender differences, we can point out:

Socio-economic inequalities

Economic inequalities affect women's ability to access transport services. As mentioned above, in most households, it is still women who do the housework, so their transport is often for care work.

And if we talk about women who, in addition to performing household tasks, are employed, this is reflected in the fact that, in an attempt to better reconcile work and family life, some studies note how women tend to work closer to home than men, as well as working shorter hours and/or irregular hours, often in lower paid industries.

Safety and security

Safety and accessibility are two essential factors that determine women's choice of mobility, but also the times at which they travel, as most women choose to travel during daylight hours because of the safety of the light and greater visibility.

A recent study confirms that 54% of women feel unsafe when travelling on public transport and a large percentage are afraid of being sexually assaulted. The lack of this security means that walking and public transport are more limited, with the car being the main means of transport, although the use of public transport is greater among women than among men.

Fewer driving licences

However, with reference to the previous point, women have fewer driving licences than men, although driving also depends on owning a vehicle and being able to use it independently. In this sense, the most frequent behaviour for women is that of being the co-driver, with the man doing the driving.

Promoting mobility to improve transport opportunities

We have seen that there are differences in mobility patterns with important implications for gender equality in this area.
Addressing these inequalities is essential if all people are to have access to safe, efficient and affordable transport services.

To do this, in addition to enhancing education with public awareness campaigns and the implementation of policies that reinforce the safety of women and other gender identities in today's transport, going back to the Woman Forward Foundation study, it is necessary to include a gender perspective in mobility in order to make progress in three areas:

  1. To ensure a complete and holistic view of everyday mobility.
  2. Broaden the concept of safety in mobility by addressing violence against women and differentiated perceptions of safety.
  3. Move towards gender equity and the increase of women in mobility planning, design and management.

In relation to the third point, at Meep we believe that there is a fourth point that is no less important: to have more diverse teams in the development of connected mobility platforms that help to identify possible gender biases, since technology reflects the values of its creators and the information from which it is nourished.

If you found today's topic interesting, we invite you to visit our blog, where you can find several articles, all of them with one main focus: mobility.