Women are shaking up the principles of mobility

Science topics April 2018 Human behaviourRoad safetyTransport

By Ariane Dupont-Kieffer, Lecturer in Economics at PHARE, École d’Économie de la Sorbonne, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Transport systems and the organisation of mobility are the basis for the construction of an inclusive society which provides concrete sustainable solutions that are accessible to all.  Such a society is one in which each individual is able to participate in all economic, social and cultural activities while at the same time developing his or her potential aptitudes, to the benefit of society as a whole.

Can women’s increasing involvement in the creation and sharing of wealth lead to the replacement of the current principles of mobility with a sustainable and inclusive model?


Men and women: different types of mobility?

Although some signs of convergence are appearingi, there are still important differences in men’s and women’s mobility. They differ in terms of the number of trips, their distance budget, their time budget and their modal choiceii.

The explanation for these differences lies in the social role assigned to women, by the division of tasks within households and by differentiated participation in the jobs market. More women than men are engaged in part-time work, and they also favour teleworking more and choose jobs near their homeiii. This results in specific mobility choices: they travel outside peak hours, and make sequences of trips which are shorter than those made by meniv.


A supply of services that has to be modified

While men’s trip-making is chiefly explained by their occupational activities, women’s trip making is -determined by family caring and domestic tasks. They also have less access to a car (due to not holding a driving licence or not owning or having access to a vehicle)v and tend to travel by foot or on public transport, of which they are the principal users.

However, the level of services does not appear to match their needs: outside peak periods, public transport is infrequent, and transport and public space are unsafe because of the danger of harassment, and it is difficult to travel with persons of reduced mobility, children and when carrying loads.



Women are shaking up the principles of mobility - Ifsttar - Drawing : Joël Yerpez Ifsttar - All rights reserved

                                                                                               That's the female touch ! of course it's an electric one....
                                                                                                                                           You see, our designers want to be ahead on their time  while still respecting tradition !!



Women are taking control of their mobility

Nevertheless, the combined impact of a number of trends is reducing the differences between women and men: women’s participation in the jobs market is increasing and the youngest women are inventing new mobility behaviours which older women can replicatevi.

Women are choosing their mobility, and are very sensitive to the issues of climate change and pollution, in particular. When purchasing an electric vehicle they are more concerned about preserving the environment while men are more attracted by the vehicle’s technological performancevii.


Raising the question of women’s mobility forces us to focus on users’ needs and implement user-centric mobility models. The aim is no longer to see how users adapt to the transport system - or do not because they prefer to cancel certain journeys - but how the transport system permits economic and social development for one and all. This change in outlook forces us to revise the utilitarian approach which currently determines how transport projects are evaluated (action COST TEA).



Further readings...

i Dupont-Kieffer, A. et Zoran Krakutovski. 2012. Temps de transport au regard des changements démographiques en Ile de France : tendances passées et projections à l’horizon 2030, Recherche Transport Sécurité, vol. 27, 75-92.
ii Dupont-Kieffer, A. (ed). 2014. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Women Issues in Transportation, FIA publications, Geneva (Novembre).
iii Predali, Frédérique. 2004. La mobilité comme révélateur de l’évolution des modes de vie des femmes. Les tendances des pratiques des femmes en milieu de vie en Ile-de-France depuis les années 1970. Thesis defended at Université Paris XII (and prepared at DEST/INRETS), 2004.

iv Rosenbloom, Sandra. 2006. Understanding women and men’s travel patterns: the research challenge. In Research on Women’s Issues in Transportation, Vol. 1 : Conference Overview and Plenary Papers, Transportation Research Board Conference Proceeding. Washington DC: National research Council, 7-28.
v Roux, Sophie, Armoogum, Jimmy et Clotilde Minster. 2014. Dynamics of car ownership and its use in France since the seventies: A gender analysis., in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Women Issues in Transportation, FIA publications, Geneva (Novembre), 265-279.
vi Kaplan, Sigal Sigurdardottir, Sigrun, Sigal, et Mette Møller, 2014, Gender differences in the travel behaviour of adolescents and young adults in Denmark in Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Women Issues in Transportation, FIA publications, Geneva, Novembre, 297-307.
vii Waygood, Owen et Erel Aviner. 2014. Communicating transportation carbon dioxide information: Does gender impact behavioral response? Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Women Issues in Transportation, FIA publications, Geneva (Novembre), 163-179.