Bridging the Gender Data Gap in Mobility

Tackling car-centric transport planning is not only a climate issue – it is also about overcoming androcentric and car-centric planning as a means of oppression. The transport sector is exemplary for the challenges and the need for a holistic and just transition along the lines of a feminist transformation.

Mobility surveys and data form the basis for urban transport planning and policy. However, the applied methodologies often neglect the existing gender data gap. Gender-blind interventions in public transport can exacerbate existing gender and accessibility inequalities. It is therefore imperative to take a feminist perspective when gathering, compiling, and analysing data for evidence-based transport planning and policy.

Together with WhereIsMyTransport and Groots, we have worked on the development, testing and analysis of gender-inclusive mobility data gathering. The mixed-method research methodology and piloting focused on women as users of public transport and infrastructure. The findings highlight the need to rethink and adapt traditional survey and planning methodologies so that transparent and user-oriented transport planning criteria can be applied and public transport truly serves all members of society.

Key findings

It is not sufficient to disaggregate data to produce impactful insights on the gendered experience of public transport. Women are not a single homogeneous group and their needs and pain points will differ greatly depending on their age, occupation, household structure, and income levels.

For example, the level of income influences the mode of transportation a woman chooses to get to her destination: Wealthier women are more likely to use ride-hailing services, while lower-income women are ‘trapped’ to use informal minibuses (due to high costs of alternative public transportation).

Age impacts the types of incidents experienced. Younger women are more likely to speak out about experiences of verbal sexual harassment.

The insights gathered around the type of incidents experienced by women varied depending on the research methodology used—surveys were less conducive to women reporting the full extent of their experiences, as opposed to the focus-group discussions, where women were encouraged to open up and relate to one another’s stories.

While safety was a predominant concern for most participants, concerns about affordability or non-standard/regulated fares sometimes took precedence.

Decision-making matrix of different profiles interviewed

The blue dots summarise which factors the different types of women prioritise in their decision-making process around public transport.

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