Public transportation’s hidden gender bias

Are we under reporting trips made by women? And do we need to redesign transit facilities to better accommodate women? Researchers at Stanford University think so and have coined the term “mobility of care.” Trips made by care givers and involving domestic errands, categories more heavily weighted toward women, do not show up as a separate category in many transit surveys. If they did, studies show that these types of trips would rank second only to work trips as a reason for using transit. In addition, many “trips” are actually trip chains, a series of stops instead of a single trip from one point to another. Again, these types of trips are more often done by women than men.

The gender disparity in both care trips and trip chains grows larger for parents. While child care has become more equally split in recent decades, mothers still make far more side trips than fathers during the day to provide for children and do household errands. And within certain racial groups, this gender disaprity becomes even more pronounced.

The Stanford study goes on to suggest implications of this gender bias. Once transit agencies realize that a large portion of trips are made for care purposes, they can better accommodate riders making these trips with better station design and routes that better serve destinations like parks and schools.