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7Understanding Womenâs and Menâs Travel Patterns The Research Challenge Sandra Rosenbloom, University of Arizona Men and women have long had different travel patterns. However, there is increasing convergence in those travel patterns, at least at the aggregate level. Trends in womenâs and menâs travel patterns over time are evalu- ated to determine whether comparable men and women have similar travel patterns. It is concluded that (a) womenâs and menâs aggregate travel behavior is still far from equal on a number of measures whereas trends toward convergence may be slowing, (b) disaggregating behavior often reveals distinct differences between the sexes, and (c) so many potentially explanatory variables are tied to sex in society that it may not be relevant whether sex or other intensely gendered variables, such as household role or living alone in old age, explain dif- ferences between men and women. There is more than adequate justification for a focus on womenâs trans- portation issues and the need for continued research on the nature and expected duration of the travel differ- ences between women and men to supply the informa- tion needed to make effective transportation and other policies. Women, on average, have different travel pat-terns from those of men (1â3). Most studiesshow that women make more daily trips but travel fewer miles, are less likely to be licensed to drive, are more likely to make trips with the purpose of serving passengers (such as taking children to activities or other adults to medical appointments), and are more likely to link or chain trips together than do comparable men (4, pp. 75â87; 5â8). Moreover, women are less likely to have automobile crashes, although they are more likely to be hurt seriously in those crashes than are men (9â12). Although there is agreement over the basic facts, there is some controversy about the reasons for these differ- ences and the extent to which comparable men and women behave or react differently in comparable situa- tions. Early womenâs travel studies were dismissed by some researchers and policy analysts on the grounds that women and men often led different lives; it was no sur- prise that women not in the labor force (or only working part time outside the home) had different travel patterns than did men in full-time employment. Many researchers believed that (a) the focus on sex was normatively rather than scientifically driven and (b) research on womenâs travel missed the fact that household roles, employment status, occupation, income, or residential location actu- ally explained why men and women made different travel choices (13, 14). Schintler (15, pp. 351â358) argues that traditional models assume that each travelerâs primary concern is to minimize travel time or costs; thus they do not correctly characterize gender differences in travel. In the safety area, some observers believed that the differences in crash rates between men and women sim- ply reflected differences in exposure (i.e., number of miles traveled) rather than differences in driving ability or behavior (16). Moreover, several presentations given at this conference have argued that whatever the histori- cal causes, menâs and womenâs travel patterns are con- verging, in part because so many of the underlying causes of travel behavior (employment, income, licensing, auto- mobile ownership, etc.) have equalized.
The trends in womenâs and menâs travel patterns over time are evaluated here, with an analysis of where, when, and why those patterns appear to be converging. Con- sideration is given to whether variables other than sex better explain travel differences between men and women and whether currently observed travel differ- ences are likely to disappear. Also questioned is whether comparable men and women have similar travel patterns and whether the answer to that question actually makes a meaningful difference. Finally, some reasons are sug- gested for why different researchers address travel behavior studies differently and how that may affect their findings. Three major findings are discussed. First, although there is little doubt that womenâs and menâs aggregate travel behavior is converging, it is still far from equal on a number of measures and trends toward convergence may be slowing. Second, disaggregate analyses some- times tell a different story. When one controls for age, life cycle, race, or ethnicity, one often sees major differ- ences between men and women. Third, critics of the womenâs travel behavior literature are themselves miss- ing the point. Sex does and will continue to explain many important travel differences because most underlying variablesâfrom household role to income patternsâare so closely linked to sex in modern society. It ultimately begs the question to assert that other factors create dif- ferences in travel behavior when those factors are so intensely gendered. There is still an important need for a special focus on womenâs travel. Ongoing travel differences between men and women at many levels of disaggregation raise a host of important research and policy questions. It is impor- tant to single out and separately evaluate womenâs travel patterns (a) when gender differences are large, (b) when the differences are persistent, (c) when women are a sub- stantial majority of any group under study, or (d) when all three characteristics are present. At the same time, future research must take into account the complexity of travel behavior, use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods that carefully consider the social context and environment, and control for a wide variety of variables that might affect the trip making of women and men. The three major societal trends that create conver- gence in aggregate travel behavior are examined first: womenâs employment outside the home, changing house- hold roles, and the growth of nontraditional households and families. Next the countervailing forces that act to differentiate further womenâs and menâs travel are con- sidered, forces that arise from these very same societal trends. Third, it is questioned whether it makes a differ- ence if roughly comparable men and women have the same travel patterns if most of the people in question continue to be women. Finally, the major findings are summarized and the kinds of research are identified that are needed on womenâs and menâs travel behavior in order to develop effective transportation planning poli- cies and programs. CONVERGENCE IN TRAVEL PATTERNS Fifty years ago it was easy to see why men and women had different travel patterns: most men were in the paid labor force and most women were not. Thus most menâs travel was shaped by their paid employment in locations generally some distance from where they lived, whereas that of most women was shaped by their (unpaid) domestic and childcare responsibilities, generally close to their homes (17â19). Of course, not everyone believed that this distribution of duties was fair (20) or that the transportation system was responsive to womenâs spe- cific needs (21; 22, pp. 607â632), but the causes of gen- der differences seemed clear. However, in the past three decades most industrialized countries have seen three dramatic and related trends: â¢ The increasing involvement of women, particularly those with children, in the paid labor force; â¢ Changes in the distribution of household responsi- bilities (roles); and â¢ Substantial alterations in household and family structure combined with the aging of society. These trendsâwhich have set off an avalanche of travel-related changesâhave clearly caused womenâs travel to more resemble menâs in key ways and to differ sharply, when viewed carefully, in other ways. Womenâs Labor Force Participation For generations women traveled fewer miles and were less dependent on the private car for their travel than men. However, there have been substantial increases in all indices of womenâs travel and automobility over the past three decades, and most experts believe that they are directly linked to the increasing involvement of women in the paid labor force (23, pp. 149â155; 24). Almost 62% of all U.S. women aged 16 and over were in the labor force in 2002, up from 42% in 1975. However, the overall fig- ures hide the substantially higher employment rate among younger women: more than 75% of women aged 25 to 34, for example, were in salaried employment in 2002 (25, Table 1). Even among slightly older women there has been a dramatic growth in employment; 70% of women aged 45 to 54 were in the labor force in 2001 (26). 8 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION
As more women have gone to work their miles traveled, trips made, driver licensing, and vehicle ownership have increased substantially. And it is no surprise that women have become more dependent on the private car to engage in their increased travel (24, 27). Some of the increase in travel was simply arithmetic: women who never before made one to five round trips to work per week began doing so. The U.S. Department of Transportation noted, âSimply being a worker increases the probability of making more trips and traveling more milesâ (28). So as women entered the labor force, the gender gap in miles and automobile use began to rapidly disappear. Changing Household Roles One of the most dramatic features of the increased labor force participation of women in the past four decades is the large number of working mothers, and especially the mothers of small children (29). Although there are differ- ences between married and single mothers, the majority of all mothers work outside the home; 71% of married women and almost 82% of single mothers with children under 18 worked full time in 2003 (25, Table 5). Having younger children did affect the likelihood of paid employ- ment although not generally the numbers of hours worked; 57% of married women with children under 3 and 53% with children under 1 were in the labor force in 2003, almost two-thirds in full-time employment. When married women with children are in salaried employment, their household and family obligations cre- ate ripple effects through their daily and weekly travel choices (as it does for single mothers, a topic discussed in the next section) (28). Many employed married women face a âdouble dayâ or a âsecond shiftâ combining paid and unpaid work. On average employed wives work fewer hours for pay than husbands and earn less, while their husbands still do less than a third of the domestic labor. (30) Because of the complicated demands on their time, two-parent families face significant pressures to change the traditional ways in which individual members relate to one another and divide household responsibilities, and these changes clearly have transportation implica- tions. More men are assuming domestic and childcare responsibilities, especially if their wives or partners work outside the home (31â34). A 1993 study concluded that in the previous three decades men had begun to spend more time on household activities; between the 1970s and the 1980s they did more household chores, but these were the traditionally male ones such as household repair and lawn care. Since the mid-1980s, however, men have also helped more with what have been called âfemale chores,â such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. A growing number of working parents arrange their employment schedules so that the father can watch the children while the mother works, and vice versa. For example, in 1999 18.5% of preschoolers were cared for by their father while the mother worked (35). In addi- tion, there are a growing number of âhousehusbandsââ men who stay at home to care for children while their wives work for pay (25, Table 5). In 2003, 1.4 million fathers in two-parent families with children under 16 were not in the labor force (25). A study by the University of Floridaâs Center for Urban Transportation Research directly linked the growth of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to the parenting role (although not by gender): VMT levels grow with age and are at their highest levels for young to middle age adults who are in the peak levels of work-related travel as well as peak lev- els of household-serving travel. This is the stage where parents serve as chauffeurs to youth activities, travel to meet work and personal needs, and to accomplish other household serving trips such as shopping and errands. (36, p. 11) Although traditionally women traveled fewer miles and less often in a car, for decades women have made more daily trips than men, which is probably related to their household responsibilities (1) whether or not they are in paid employment. Table 1 shows the average daily trip rates of men and women in two-adult households at dif- ferent stages of the life cycle in 1990 and 2001. Although not the major purpose, the most striking message in Table 1 is the dramatic increase in trip making by adults in all life situations in the 11-year period but particularly among those with young children. More to the point, the data in Table 1 show that although women still make more trips than men, trip making has generally increased faster among men than among women. As a result, the index of menâs to womenâs travel was closer to parity (1.0) in 2001 than it was in 1990; that is, menâs and womenâs patterns have converged over the time period in all life cycles except the last (in which the youngest child is 16 to 21). These data support the hypothesis that because house- hold roles are changing and men are assuming more household responsibilities, menâs travel has come to more resemble womenâs, at least in daily trip making. Changing Household Composition Overlapping, or perhaps complementing, the increasing involvement of women in the paid labor force and the 9UNDERSTANDING WOMENâS AND MENâS TRAVEL PATTERNS
changing distribution of household responsibilities is the changing composition of families and households.1 Today a substantial share of all U.S. households are com- posed of only one person (37); this category includes young people leaving their parentsâ home before mar- riage and those maintaining a household after a divorce. It also includes older people, divorced or widowed (or increasingly never married), who live alone. As a result single-person households accounted for more than 26% of all households in 2003, up from 17% in 1970 (38, pp. 43â142; 39). In addition there are a growing number of single- parent-family householdsâthat is, those with children under 18. In 2003 married couples with children accounted for only 23% of all U.S. households, down from 40% in 1970. But single-parent households accounted for more than 16% of all households and almost 24% of all family households (40). Changing household structures affect travel by sex differently than do either employment or role changes. The trend toward convergence in travel patterns is driv- en within specific categories of single-person and single- parent households. That is, it is accepted that single-parent households have significantly different travel patterns than two-parent households (41), but there are more single-father households than ever before. It is possible, therefore, that both male and female single parents will have similar travel patterns. Young singles obviously have different travel patterns than married people and parents, but perhaps not from each other. And although there are clearly large travel differences between older men and women today, these differences may well disappear as more older women enter their retirement years as drivers. Single-Person Households The creation of single-person households is one source of the growth in almost all indicators of U.S. travel (24). Two otherwise comparable unmarried people will have very different travel patterns if one lives aloneâthe lat- ter will make significantly more trips. Some analysts, and presentations at this conference, have suggested that the growth of young single-person households may create a large number of male and female travelers whose trans- portation patterns are roughly the same if income, employment, and other relevant variables are held con- stant. This is a variant of the observation that it is house- hold role and not gender that better explains travel patterns: comparable young men and men who live alone may have very similar travel patterns because neither group has childcare or major family responsibilities. The data in Table 2 suggest that, at least for those between 25 and 44, men and women living alone made roughly the same number of trips (although the very youngest men do make 13% more trips than younger women). The same convergence may be true of older single- person households. It is likely that both older men and women who live alone will face the same set of domestic responsibilities. Moreover, the travel gap between older men and women has been closing, in part because the trip making and distance traveled by the elderly has increased faster over the past 30 years than for any other group in society and most significantly among older women (42). A recent U.S. report stated: Improved health and growing automobile availability and licensure rates, particularly among [older] women, have driven growing travel.... Dispersed pop- ulation (suburban living), smaller household size due to high divorce rates and lessened multigenerational living in the same household, and improved economic conditions also contribute to higher older adult VMT [vehicle miles traveled] rates.... Improving longevity 10 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION TABLE 1 Daily Trip Rates by Life Cycle and Sex, 1990 and 2001: Two-Adult Households Percentage Life Cycle 1990 2001 Change No children Women 3.4 4.2 22.9 Men 3.3 4.1 24.8 Index M/W 0.97 0.99 Youngest child < 5 Women 3.5 4.6 30.6 Men 3.2 4.4 37.5 Youngest child 6â15 Women 4.0 4.9 22.5 Men 3.3 4.5 35.8 Index M/W 0.83 0.91 Youngest child 16â21 Women 3.4 4.5 32.1 Men 3.3 4.6 29.4 Index M/W 0.97 0.95 SOURCES: Unpublished data from the 2001 NHTS and Rosenbloom (1). 1 The U.S. census defines a household as the people occupying a hous- ing unit. A family household contains at least two persons, the house- holder (usually the person who owns or rents the living quarters) and at least one other person related to the householder by birth, mar- riage, and adoption. It should be noted that a family household need not include children; it could be a husband and wife or a brother and sister, for example. The census recognizes three broad categories of family households: married-couple families, other families with female householders, and other families with male householders. TABLE 2 Average Daily Trips by Sex and Age, 2001: People Living Alone 16â24 25â34 35â44 45â54 55â64 Women 4.56 4.78 4.65 4.37 4.16 Men 5.17 4.77 4.59 4.66 4.25 Index M/W 1.13 1.00 0.99 1.07 1.02 SOURCE: Unpublished data from the 2001 NHTS.
and health combined with additional technology aids to assist driving are anticipated to produce continuing growth in the elderly VMT levels. (36, p. 11) Figure 1 shows that although there were large gaps between the oldest licensed men and women in 2003, licensing rates among women and men who will turn 65 by 2013 are closer to parity (92% versus 97%). Thus the travel patterns of single adults over 65 may well con- verge in the future. Single-Parent Households Another important component of the changing structure of households is the large and growing number of single- parent families. In 2003 more than 35% of all families with children under 18 were headed by a single parent, up from 20% in 1980. In fact, between 1993 and 2003 alone, the number of single-parent households increased more than 50%. Several demographic factors explain these trends: A larger proportion of births occurred to unmarried women in the 1990s compared with the 1960s and 1970s, increasing the proportion of never married parents. A partial explanation is that the delay of marriage also increased the likelihood of a nonmari- tal birth, because adults were single for more years. Another factor was the growth in divorce among couples with children. (43) Traditionally, the overwhelming majority of single parents were women; in 1980, for example, in almost 90% of families with children headed by one parent, the household head was a woman. In 1995 the number of single male parents in the Nationwide Personal Trans- portation Survey (NPTS) was too small for any mean- ingful analyses of their travel patterns. However, the number of single-parent households headed by men increased 267% between 1980 and 2003â71% in just the decade between 1993 and 2003. As a result, today almost one in five single-parent households is headed by a father (44, 45). Most unmarried parents are employed; in 2004, 76.1% of single mothers and 84.8% of single fathers had salaried employment. Among those employed, more than 81% of single mothers and 97% of single fathers worked full time (46). Thus single parents are often forced to balance both employment and domestic responsibilities without the help of another resident adult. This balancing act has traditionally had important transportation implications for single mothers: studies have shown that they make more trips, trip-link more often, and are more constrained by their children than married parents of either sex (42, 47, 48). If single fathers face the same constraints, their travel patterns may well be similar to those of single mothers, not dif- fering by sex but rather by household structure. Summary As women have joined the paid labor force some of their travel patterns have come to more resemble menâs in sev- eral key areasâincreased licensing, dependence on the car, trip making, miles traveled (and driven), and com- muting. As men and women more evenly balance house- 11UNDERSTANDING WOMENâS AND MENâS TRAVEL PATTERNS FIGURE 1 Driverâs license rates by sex and age, 2003. 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 55â59 65â69 70â74 75â79 80â84 85+ Age Cohort Percentage Licensed Women Men
hold responsibilities their travel patterns may also con- verge. In fact, in 2001 U.S. menâs and womenâs daily trip rates equalized for the first time; on average both sexes made 4.4 trips each day. The growing number of younger single-person house- holds as well as the increasing percentage of single- parent households headed by men may reflect underlying trends in which the behavior of women and men in these categories is explained by their obligations and roles rather than by their sex. The travel patterns of older single persons may reflect the convergence seen among those younger: as more women become licensed and come into their retirement years with substantial driving experience, their trip making may become more and more like that of their male counterparts. SOCIETAL PATTERNS THAT INCREASE DIVERGENCE Changes in employment, the division of household responsibilities, and new household structures have clearly helped create many more similarities in the travel patterns of men and women than in the past. However, there are also some strong countervailing forces. First, societal trends such as increasing employment among women do not always close the travel gap between men and women, although they may superficially appear to do so. Second, household roles are not changing that much or that rapidly; although the direction is clear, nei- ther the speed nor the magnitude of change is as dra- matic as one might assume given the talk of growing equality between the sexes. Third, the growing number of new household structures often significantly involves, and more likely disadvantages, women than men. Employment Disparities Women and men may have different experiences in, and outcomes from, their involvement in the labor force, fac- tors that ultimately have travel implications, the most significant of which are â¢ Income, â¢ Occupation and industry of employment, and â¢ Part-time and flexible labor force employment. First, women, on average, earn less than men, even men in the same industries and occupations. In 2002 women working full time made, on average, 77.9 cents for every dollar made by men, up from 62.3 cents in 1979 (25, Table 13). Moreover, U.S. working women aged 16 and older were 25% more likely to be living below the poverty level than comparable men, with the gap being the largest at the youngest ages. For example, working women 20 to 24 were 53% more likely to be living below poverty than comparable male workers (25). There are various explanations for these income disparities, including discrimination, differences in train- ing and education (49), and varying commitment to the labor force, for example, working part time and with- drawing from the labor force temporarily to raise chil- dren (50â53). A second major reason, both for the lower income received by the average salaried woman and for differ- ences in travel patterns between men and women, is the changing nature of the economic base of most devel- oped countries. The U.S. economy has shifted from reliance on traditional manufacturing, farming, and mining to dependence on service-sector employment, in a process that has been described as the deindustrializa- tion of society. Women are overrepresented in the ser- vice sector; almost 60% are employed in service-sector jobs (54). Unfortunately many, although far from all, service-sector jobs are low paid and intermittent, offer- ing little chance for advancement. Thus the growth of service-sector employment has helped trap more women in inherently poorer-paying and less secure industries (55). A U.S. government report commented: Even though married women have made progress in entering occupations predominantly held by men (especially executive and professional speciality occupations), the majority of women [are] still employed in traditional âfemaleâ occupations. For example, of the 18 million people in administrative support occupations (including clerical), 79 percent were women. In contrast, 91 percent of the 14 mil- lion people in precision production, craft, and repair occupations were men. (56, p. 3) Industrial restructuring affects more than income. Womenâs greater concentration in certain occupations also has both spatial and temporal dimensions, which affect their travel patterns more than those of men. Tem- porally, a U.S. Department of Labor study found that almost 40% of women workers do not have a day-shift job, that is, one in which at least half of their work hours are between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. In fact, almost one in four full-time U.S. women workers and more than 60% of those working part time did not work as many as three hours of their shifts between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (57). Third, women are also more likely to be employed part time; even if working 40 or more hours per week, women are more likely to work variable hours. In the first quarter of 2005 women constituted two-thirds of all part-time U.S. workers, although only 25% of all U.S. working women were employed part time (58). More- over, women are a majority of what has been called the 12 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION
flexible work forceâthose who work full time but for less than a full year or who work at different locations or different schedules over a week or month for the same employer. U.S. women are also the majority of those working at home (59). In 2003 women were also more likely to work for temp agencies and to work on call than were comparable men. And since 1999, a greater percentage of women workers than men have held multiple jobs (25, Table 31). All these temporal patterns have transporta- tion implications and act to create real differences between menâs and womenâs travel patterns (60). Spatially, service industries, in which more women are employed, are substantially more dispersed across a met- ropolitan area than traditional manufacturing plants and rarely create any kind of spatial agglomeration. Thus women in the service industry can, and do, work any- where in a region rather than at specific sites like facto- ries, which tend to locate near one another (61). Thus their employment sites are less likely to be served by pub- lic transport, and they may have less opportunity to find neighbors with whom to carpool. In addition, having multiple jobs or multiple job locations means that women are more likely to have different, and varying, commutes than men. Moreover, women still tend to work closer to home than comparable men, which may be the result of some combination of the employment opportunities open to them, their transportation resources, and their house- hold responsibilities, a topic that has been debated for at least three decades (62â68). Although their work trip commute does increase with income earned, it never equals that of men with comparable incomes (69), although this may be more true of white non-Hispanic than minority women (70â73). Sometimes womenâs unwillingness to travel as far as men creates localized labor markets; Hanson and Pratt, for example, found small labor catchment areas surrounding suburban firms in the United States that hire low-skilled women. They argue that such firms may have located specifically to tap female labor markets, knowing that women will seek nearby job opportunities that men will not (74). As a result of these trends, women often have more variable travel patterns than men or than did women in the past. They may commute at different times and to different locations than comparable men (and their com- mutes may change more frequently). They may also make different mode choices because of the nature of their employment. In a U.S. Department of Transporta- tion study (75) and two presentations at this conference, it was suggested that mothers who worked part time had the most complicated travel patterns of all workers. Even though women are still more likely to use pub- lic transit than men, it is difficult for transit systems to serve the far-flung locations of service-sector jobs effec- tively. This situation may explain why in 1990 women with incomes under $25,000 were actually more likely to drive alone to work (and less likely to carpool or use public transit) than men with comparable incomes (62). Sometimes there is no meaningful service outside of tra- ditional peak periods (late at night, for example) or in low-density areas. Security concerns may prevent women from using the existing transit services (76â78); womenâs security while traveling was a major topic at this conference. The fact that employed women generally work closer to home than comparable men can be seen in mileage data. Although womenâs mileage has increased substantially over the past decade, and at a rate higher than menâs, women still travel fewer miles each day, on average, than men. Table 3 shows the vast differences in miles driven by female and male drivers in 2001; only the youngest women come even close to parityâ women 16 to 24 drive roughly 82% of the miles driven by comparable men. For the rest of the age cohorts women drive roughly 6 mi for every 10 mi driven by comparable men. Overall, although employment trends cause women to increase their trip making to levels more comparable with menâs and to depend more on the private car to do so, the microlevel aspects of their travel patterns may continue to diverge from menâs because so many work more varied schedules and in industries, jobs, and loca- tions that differ from most menâs while earning lower average salaries. Their household responsibilities may continue to be an important factor in their travel pat- terns, as is discussed next. Household Roles The traditional family modelâin which the husband works outside the home for pay and the wife works at home caring for her family without payâhas largely dis- 13UNDERSTANDING WOMENâS AND MENâS TRAVEL PATTERNS TABLE 3 Average Daily Miles Driven by Sex and Age, 2001 Total 16â24 25â34 35â44 45â54 55â64 Women 26.9 25.4 27.0 29.8 27.8 21.9 Men 42.9 30.7 43.7 46.8 47.0 42.2 Index W/M 0.63 0.82 0.62 0.64 0.59 0.52 SOURCE: Unpublished data from the NHTS, 2001.
appeared in most industrial countries.2 This change has created some significant pressures for changes in how family members relate to one another and how they divide household responsibilities. As suggested in an ear- lier section and in some papers given at this conference, the division of household responsibilities is becoming more equal in response to these pressures. This growing equality might bring convergence in travel patterns. However, the actual data suggest that observations that household obligations are becoming more equal may have correctly assessed the direction of such changes but neither their speed nor their magnitude. Men are assuming more domestic and childcare responsibilities, especially if their wives or partners work outside the home (79). Unfortunately, what most explains the closing gap between the sexes is that the total time the entire household spends on household chores falls when women enter paid employment. A 2000 study using travel diary data showed that domestic laborânot counting childcare and shoppingâhas con- tinued to decline since 1965 as womenâs paid employ- ment has grown. This finding is mainly due to dramatic declines among women (both in and out of the paid labor force), who have cut their housework hours almost in half since the 1960s.... In contrast menâs house- work has almost doubled during this period (to the point where men were responsible for a third of housework in the 1990s). (34) Thus men are doing a higher share but one that involves less total work. A 2002 study found that wives still do more than their husbands in the most egalitarian of countries (80). A 2004 international comparative study of 22 largely developed countries found that the division of household responsibilities was more influenced by macrolevel vari- ables, such as wage rates and the state of economic devel- opment, than by any variables open to individual determination (such as personal attitudes about equality in household roles). The study concluded that âchanges in individual-level factors may not be enough to achieve an equal division of housework, without the reduction of macro-level gender inequality in economic and politi- cal powerâ (81). Most studies have found that employment makes a difference; when both adults are employed, the distribu- tion of chores is more âequalâ (34, 82, 83). But even in dual-earner households women are responsible for the majority of all household and childcare chores, although they do less than nonsalaried housewives (84). Research shows that employed men married to employed women do more housework than men in single-earner families, but this finding seems to be mediated by the number of hours the men work and their salariesâthe higher their salary or working hours the less household work men do relatively independent of their wivesâ salaries or sched- ules. Moreover, the chores done by men and women remain different; women tend to do the âtraditionally feminineâ tasks such as cooking and cleaning while men do âepisodic discretionary tasksâ (34). A 1996 review of the literature on this subject com- mented: The most notable characteristic of the current division of household labor is that, whether employed or not, women continue to do the majority of housework. Current estimates are that men do between 20% and 35% of the housework. In spite of disagreement over the significance of change in the division of household labor, the nature of recent shifts is clear. Women still do the majority of housework, but they are doing less and their spouses more than in the past. (85) Children have a profound impact on the division of household labor. Having children under 11 increases the amount of time both spouses or partners put into house- hold chores, but that amount is three times more for wives than husbands independent of employment status. Thus having young children substantially increases the housework gender gap (34). The authors of a 1996 study concluded: âGender remains a more important determi- nant of housework than any other factorâ (86). A 2003 study found that women experience less leisure time than comparable men and that these differ- ences are greatest when young children are present. Womenâs free time was more often âcontaminatedâ by their need to watch their children: âMothers, more so than fathers, bear sole responsibility for children during their free time.â Moreover, fathers experience greater subjective net benefits from their free time than do women; the researchers suggest that this may be because mothers simply âspend more time worrying about undone work or family issues during their free time.â This difference may result from the different ways that men and women are socialized to behave. If women have a more inter-connected work-family life experience, they may not get as much practice at turning off the concerns of one sphere when they enter another. This may spill over into their leisure experiences as well. (87) 14 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION 2 Trenchant observers have noted that the traditional model is more an artifact of the late industrial revolution than a description of how families have operated for a number of centuries. Women almost always worked, generally without pay, in the family business or farm. Women en masse staying home to care for their families was a late 19th-century model of middle-class life more than a description of how the majority of families lived.
Although the subject is not much discussed in the travel behavior literature, it has been known for decades that women are overwhelmingly the persons responsible for direct care of aging parents and in-laws (88, 89). Studies have shown that such responsibilities are a tremendous burden on working women (90). Since fewer older people live with their adult children than at any other time in U.S. history, these responsibilities must affect womenâs travel patterns (91). Although there has been some media focus on house- husbands, the data do not indicate that this is an impor- tant trend. In 2003 only 4.3% of men in married-couple households with children under 16 were out of the labor force, and only 16.3% of that small number said that they stayed home to care for their family (compared with 88.3% of married mothers who said that they stayed out of the labor force for family reasons). It appears that a large percentage of men performing the househusband role are only doing so temporarily while ill, unable to find work, or in school (25, Table 5). In the past five years there has been a leveling off in menâs assumption of a greater share of household work, which could indicate merely that men will continue to increase their allocation to housework over the next decades, but at a slower rate than in the 1970s and 1980s. Alternatively there may some relatively stable âceilingâ for how much time men will contribute to housework, unless there are significant changes in how paid work is structured, or to gender relations more generally. (34) Where and when women work, combined with their household and family roles, create ripple effects through their daily and weekly travel choices. A recent U.S. Department of Transportation report noted: The commuting pattern of workers continues to determine the location and time of other activitiesâthe location of work anchors some trips and the location of home anchors others. People commonly make stops on their way to and from work ... research on trip chaining shows that on an average work day one out of four men and one out of three women make stops during their commute. (28) In a 1998 Transportation Research Board report, it was commented that the ways in which salaried women balance their domestic and childcare responsibilities ... create sub- stantially greater and different effects on the modes they chose, the hours they travel, the routes they take, and how they organize and combine their out- of-home activities.... Howâand whereâworking women take care, or arrange for care, of their chil- dren while they work have important transportation implications... Because they retain multiple responsi- bilities when they enter the paid labor force, women often link trips together, dropping children at day- care on the way to work or going grocery shopping on the way home. (61) A 1993 Seattle study found that women were more likely to make stops on the way home from work than comparable men and noted that âthis reflects the role of females in society and the variety of activities they pur- sue (for example, shopping, personal business, and recre- ation) to satisfy personal and household activitiesâ (6). Trips including several stops between one origin and the final destination are referred to as linked or chained trips. A Southern California study found that employed women were twice as likely as employed men to report needing to bring a vehicle to work so that they could take their children to daycare and school. An analysis of a 1994 Portland, Oregon, activity and travel survey found that women heads of household per- formed more activities, made more trips, were more likely to link trips, and created more complicated trip chains when they did than comparable men (92). A 1990 study in four Chicago, Illinois, suburbs found that employed women made twice as many trips as compara- ble men did for errands, groceries, shopping, and chauf- feuring children (93). Both the 1990 and 1995 NPTS showed that employed mothers of small children linked trips far more often than did comparable male parents. In 1990 more than 40% of married women workers with children under 6 linked trips home from work compared with 30% of comparable male workers. In fact, no matter the age of their children, women workers were always more likely than comparable men to link or chain trips. Employed women were also more likely to have complicated chains with multiple stops between home and work (94, 3). Several presentations given at this conference suggested that trip-chaining behavior is becoming more similar for women and men if measured in terms of propensity to link trips to or from work. However, these studies did not con- trol for trip purpose or other relevant variables. The study by McGuckin and Nakamoto in Volume 2 of these pro- ceedings, which used the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), found that women still make more linked trips and that the purposes embedded in those trips vary more, with women doing more serve-passenger and household-serving trips than men. Table 4 suggests how these factors play out in slightly disaggregated travel patterns. The data make clear that women younger than 45 almost always made more trips than men in comparable households. This finding may 15UNDERSTANDING WOMENâS AND MENâS TRAVEL PATTERNS
reflect the fact that their travel is still more constrained by their childcare and other responsibilities than is that of men. Table 5 shows that there are important differences in trip purpose3 between otherwise comparable men and women, but particularly among those with children. In every life-cycle category women made a greater percent- age of their trips for shopping than comparable men did. This finding may, of course, indicate that they like to make those trips more than men; it may also mean that they are required to do more household provisioning because it is seen as their role. Women in the labor force are also more likely to make a greater share of their trips than are comparable men for family and personal busi- ness. Perhaps most striking is the difference in the share of serve-passenger trips; in every life-cycle category women made a greater percentage of their trips to accom- modate other people. When children were involved, women made almost twice as many of their total trips to take someone somewhere as did comparable men. Overall, household roles are changing slowly, as are the travel patterns that parallel those roles. Although men are doing more household work than ever before, the rate of increase is more impressive than the actual amount. Starting with a low base produces some notable percentage increases based on relatively small absolute changes. Almost all studies suggest that men do no more than a third of all domestic work even when their part- ner or spouse works full time. Thus the travel patterns of comparable men and women, patterns that shadow the distribution of household obligations, continue to diverge. Changing Household Structures Despite the previous discussion about changing house- hold composition, there is no compelling evidence that the travel patterns of women and men in single-person households composed of older people or in single-parent households are converging as much as they might have. The reason is that even if somewhat comparable, men and women in these groups appear to face different prob- lems. Unfortunately, there is almost no information on the travel patterns of younger single-person households. Single Parents Underlying Trends Although the number of families headed by a man alone is growing, it is still true that single-parent households are substantially more likely to be headed by a woman than by a man. In the United States between 1970 and 2003, the number of single- 16 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION TABLE 4 Average Daily Trips by Sex, Age, and Life Cycle, 2001: Two-Adult Households 16â24 25â34 35â44 45â54 55â64 Life Cycle Women Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Women Men No children Trips 4.43 4.00 4.24 3.97 4.14 4.10 4.24 4.22 3.87 4.34 W/M Index 0.90 0.94 0.99 1.00 1.12 Youngest child 0â5 years Trips 3.96 3.97 4.66 4.32 5.09 4.74 4.13 4.26 3.03 3.59 W/M Index 1.00 0.93 0.93 1.03 1.18 Youngest child 6â15 years Trips 4.21 4.00 4.65 4.19 5.24 4.63 5.18 4.71 3.30 4.57 W/M Index 0.95 0.90 0.88 0.91 1.38 Youngest child 16â21 years Trips 4.36 4.01 5.31 4.53 4.40 4.32 4.67 4.59 4.21 4.48 W/M Index 0.92 0.85 0.98 0.98 1.06 SOURCE: Unpublished data from the 2001 NHTS. TABLE 5 Married Peopleâs Trip Purposes in Percentage of All Trips by Selected Life Cycles and Sex, 2001 In Work Force Retired No Children Youngest Child < 6 Youngest Child 6â15 No Children Trip Purpose Women Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Shopping 14.8 11.8 14.0 11.0 13.1 10.1 19.5 16.1 Serve passenger 3.8 3.1 14.0 7.7 13.8 7.5 4.3 3.6 Social and recreational 10.7 10.3 9.5 9.0 8.5 10.3 11.1 12.2 Family and personal business 10.1 8.6 8.6 7.1 8.5 7.9 10.5 11.2 All other (including returning home) 60.6 66.2 53.9 65.2 56.1 64.2 54.6 56.9 SOURCE: Unpublished data from the 2001 NHTS. 3 To isolate the trip purpose âserve passenger,â it was necessary to use the NHTS codes, which include as a trip purpose âgoing home,â which accounts for just over 40% of all trips. The problem is that using that purpose artificially lowers the importance of all other trip purposes, since going home is always the second half of a trip for some other purpose.
mother families grew from 3 million to 10.1 million, or a 237% increase; single-father families grew from 0.39 million to 2.3 million, or a 490% increase (43, 45). Although the large percentage growth in single-father households has captured media attention, in 2003 only 4.6% of all U.S. children under 18 lived with their father. Only 17% of U.S. children living with one parent lived with their father (the same percentage as in 1986) because single-mother families have more children than single-father families (95). In 2003 almost two-thirds of all families headed by a man had only one child and only 10% had more than three children. Conversely, roughly 17% of single mothers had three or more children and only half had only one child. Although the majority of single parents worked out- side the home in 2004, single fathers were more likely to be employed than single mothers. The younger their children were, the less likely single mothers were to work outside the home, but the age of their children had little impact on single fathers. Among those whose youngest child was younger than 6, 57.4% of single mothers but 91.2% of single fathers were employed; the participation rate was the same for fathers of older children but jumped to 73.8% of single mothers with children 6 to 17 (46). Differences in employment and family size probably explain why families headed by a female parent were twice as likely to live below the poverty level as were single-father families. In 2001 in the United States, of the families maintained by women with no spouse present, 17 percent had an income below $10,000 and only 8 percent had an income of $75,000 or more. In contrast, of the families maintained by men with no spouse present, only 8 percent had an income below $10,000 and 17 percent had an income of $75,000 or higher. (56, p. 4) In 2003 almost one-third of all single-mother house- holds lived in poverty compared with less than 16% of single-father households (25). A recent study found that single custodial fathers spend more time in leisure pur- suits with their children than do single mothers (87), which may be linked to income and family size. Diverging Travel Trends A study of single-parent households in the mid-1980s noted: Employed single mothers have different travel pat- terns from both comparable married fathers and mothers at all income levels, as do their children. These travel patterns appear to reflect the way in which single mothers juggle complex domestic and employment roles with very limited resources and assistance. (27) Earlier studies found that single mothers are substan- tially more likely to make trips solely to chauffeur their children and are more likely to be the most frequent travel âmodeâ for their children than are married par- ents. However, these studies were conducted at a time when there were far fewer single male parents than today. Is it possible that despite average socioeconomic differences between single male and female parents, their travel patterns may be similar because of the common demands they face? Additional unpublished data from the 2001 NHTS show that single mothers whose youngest child was younger than 6 made more than 80% more of their total trips to serve passengers than single fathers with children younger than 6 (17.5% versus 9.6% of all trips). When their youngest child was between 6 and 15 years of age, single mothers took roughly 14% of all their trips to serve passengers compared with less than 9% for single fathers. Single mothers also made a greater percentage of their trips for shopping and personal business than did single fathers. Conversely, single fathers took the largest component of their nonwork trips for social and recre- ational purposes (15.4% when their youngest was younger than 5 and 11.6% when their youngest was 5 to 15 compared with 10.7% and 8.5% of all trips, respec- tively, for single mothers). At the same time, single fathers do have different travel patterns than married fathers with children of the same age. Unpublished 2001 NHTS data show that sin- gle fathers of children younger than 6 make a smaller percentage of total trips for shopping but a greater share for serving passengers and family business, although oddly also for social and recreational trips, than compa- rable married fathers. Single fathers with young children made 9.6% of all trips for serving passengers compared with 7.7% of all trips of married fathers. When their youngest child is older, the trip patterns of single and married fathers are more similar; the greatest difference is still in the share of serve-passenger trips (8.5% versus 7.5%). Single fathers also make more daily trips on aver- age than do married fathers. Regardless of income, all single parents are at a disad- vantage in U.S. society because there is no second parent to assume any of the multiple responsibilities. But low- income single mothers, and those from ethnic or racial minorities, may face additional problems that affect and are affected by their transportation choices. Although the majority of single mothers are white, there are sub- stantial concentrations of single parents among women of color. Because of historical and current patterns of racial segregation and discrimination, many of these sin- gle mothers have more limited access to employment concentrations (96). In the United States many single mothers are stranded in the center of major cities whereas the majority of new 17UNDERSTANDING WOMENâS AND MENâS TRAVEL PATTERNS
job growth has occurred in the suburbs (97, 98). Thus these women may be forced to travel a substantially longer time than comparable married women for fairly low-wage jobs, although Blumenberg and Hess found greater variability in job locations and transportation needs than was previously assumed (99) and others have not found the clear link between low income and com- mute distance (100). Still, most studies have found that single low-income women workers generally travel fur- ther than comparable married women and have a greater need for, or tendency to use, a car for those commutes (71, 101â105). Overall, single fathers and mothers do not appear to have similar travel patterns, in part because they do not have families of the same size or comparable employ- ment or income characteristics and in part because female and male single parents appear to make different activity and travel decisions. Even with lower incomes, female single parents make more trips and are more con- strained by their childrenâs needs than are comparable fathers. Given the sometimes large differences in travel behavior, some of which are counterintuitive, it is unlikely that the small number of comparable single female and male parents have similar travel patterns. It does not appear that meaningful convergence in travel patterns among single male and female parents is occur- ring, whether or not they are in comparable situations. Older Single People Underlying Trends Most single-person households of older people are composed of women living alone. Women 65 and older are four times more likely to be widowed than their male counterparts and 20% more likely to be divorced (56). The disparities in household structure increase substantially with age. In 2004 slightly less than half of all women older than 75 lived aloneâ twice the comparable rate in 1970. But in 2004 only 23% of comparable men lived alone, not much more than the 1970 rate of 19% (106). In 2003 among those 85 and older only 14% of the women but more than 59% of men were married and living with their spouse; unmarried men were substantially more likely to be liv- ing with another family member than were comparable older women (107). Moreover, older women have lower average incomes and are substantially more likely to be living in poverty than comparable men. In 2004 the median income of older women was roughly 59% of that of older men (106). In 1997 almost 14% of U.S. women but only 7% of men older than 65 lived below the poverty level (108). In 1990, 58% of women older than 75 living aloneâbut only 42% of comparable menâhad incomes under $10,000, whereas 40% of women older than 85 living alone were poor compared with 27% of comparable men. Over the next three decades the overwhelming per- centage of those older than 65 will live in suburban or low-density areas either because they have aged in place or because they moved there on retirement (109). In 2000 almost three-fourths of the older population, single or married, lived within metropolitan areas but largely in the suburbs of those areas. A study using 1995 NPTS data found that only 9% of those aged 65 and older lived at the kind of high densities that would support public transit use (118) even if they lived in the central city. This pattern has been intensifying for decades; as demogra- pher William Frey noted: The suburbs aged more rapidly in the 1990s than the nation as a whole. In large measure, this âgrayingâ of the suburbs resulted not from migration to the suburbs in the 1990s, but from residential location decisions made long ago. (91, pp. 3, 4) These patterns both require and support increased automobility and create significant mobility patterns for those unable to continue driving (111). In short, because women still outlive men and live alone more often than comparable men, the majority of older single-person households are female. Most of these single-person households will be located in low-density areas, either in the suburbs of metropolitan areas or in rural communities, where options to the car rarely exist. When older women are unable to drive, they are sub- stantially less likely to have someone else in their house- hold to drive them (or bring them goods and services in lieu of travel). Thus the overwhelming number of âstrandedâ older people are and will continue to be women (112, 113). Diverging Travel Trends Given current licensing trends, most women will enter their retirement years as drivers and that factor may create convergence in older peopleâs travel patterns. Older women will have greater mobility than comparable women in the past if mobility is measured by making more and longer trips, mostly in cars. Older women will also have more crashes as their exposure increases. Because so many live in suburban or rural locations, they may be more disadvantaged when they lose their ability to drive than their counterparts of a few years ago, who lived near and used public transit (114â117). In all these ways their travel patterns are con- verging with menâs. However, there are still sometimes substantial differ- ences in the travel behavior of comparable older men and women. Although older women are more likely to be licensed than ever before, and their trip and mileage rates increased faster than any other group between 18 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION
1995 and 2001, the 2001 NHTS shows that they still take fewer trips in all age cohorts older than 65, includ- ing the youngest (65 to 69). The data also show that older women travel considerably fewer miles than com- parable men. Both older men and older women are heav- ily dependent on a private vehicle for the overwhelming percentage of their trips; people older than 65 take at least 88% of all their trips in a private vehicle at all ages. However, men are slightly more likely to use that mode at all ages than women; for example, between the ages of 70 and 74, men take almost 92% and women 88% of all trips in a car (Figure 2). The 2001 NHTS data also show that older men rarely use public transit; more than 85% of all public transit ridership among those older than 65 is by women. Because the trip gap between older men and older women remains so large despite the substantial increases in womenâs travel, when the travel patterns of older peo- ple are removed from aggregate U.S. totals by sex the convergence in trip behavior disappears. As several pre- sentations at this conference noted, in 2001 all men and women 16 and older made, for the first time, the same number of average daily tripsâ4.0. However, because older men make so many more trips than older women, they increase the total male daily trip rate; when all travel by those 65 and older is removed, women 16 to 64 still make 21% more daily trips than comparable men. In short, the daily trip rates of comparable older men and women are so different that their inclusion distorts the total trip-making picture by sex. A more important difference between comparable seniors is that women who drive do not actually drive the car in which they are traveling as often as older men do. For example, in 2001 men older than 85 made 89% of all their trips in a private car, and they were driving that car for two-thirds of those trips. Conversely, women older than 85 made almost the same proportion of their tripsâ86%âin a private vehicle but were only driving a third of the time.4 This difference has a number of long-term conse- quences. Older women often sharply reduce their own driving as they age because they do not have confidence in their abilities (118â120). As a result, older women self-regulate more and give up driving at earlier ages and for less specific reasons than older men (121â126). These trends are related to long-term mobility differences even among older men and women who have been drivers for most of their lives. Whether the mobility differences persist as the current generation of young and middle-aged women ages will be an important research topic. Unpublished data from the 2001 NHTS show that older women accounted for 83% of all those older than 65 who did not drive. This finding is partially because so many of the current generation of older women never drove but increasingly because those who did drive gave it up earlier than men did. Older women who do not drive are substantially less likely to live in a household with another driver than comparable men; even when they are married, their husbands are likely to be older and also unable to drive (112). Overall, there is far less convergence in travel patterns among older women and men than might be predicted on the basis of the growing automobility of the elderly. Although older women have increased their trip making faster than has any other cohort of travelers, substantial gaps still remain between comparable older men and women. Moreover, because so many more older women are transportation disadvantaged than menâin that they lack access to a car or a family member to drive them or have substantially lower incomes than older menâtheir 19UNDERSTANDING WOMENâS AND MENâS TRAVEL PATTERNS FIGURE 2 Driver versus passenger status in all privately owned vehicle trips by licensed drivers 65+ by age and sex, 2001. 4 This finding is not because women have given up driving (or their licenses) entirely since the NHTS imputes driver status to those who drive; it does not question licensing status. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Age Percentage Passenger Driver 65â69 W W W W W MMMMM 70â74 75â79 90â84 85+
travel patterns will continue to differ from those of older men in important ways. COMPARABILITY OR NOT? Do men and women have different travel patterns? The answer is clearly yesâas it has been for decadesâeven in the face of growing convergence in some aggregate patterns. A second and more important question is, Why are there differences between men and women? Do men and women have different travel patterns even if they are in comparable positions? The answer also appears to be yes although the travel differences between the sexes may not be as great as in the past and there are situations of greater equality. But a third question may well be the most important: What difference does it make if roughly comparable peo- ple have the same travel patterns if most of the people in question continue to be women? To reconsider some of the data given earlier, â¢ Older women (65+) constitute more than 80% of all elderly people who live alone, donât have a driverâs license, exist below poverty, and have no access to a household driver; they are also substantially more likely to give up driving than comparable men are, even in the absence of illness or crashes. â¢ Single mothers compose 80% of all single-parent households and of all single-parent households living below poverty, and their travel patterns are fairly differ- ent from those of single fathers. â¢ Married women who work full time still do at least two-thirds of all household and childcare tasks and even greater shares if their husbands make more money or work longer hours, independent of the hours they them- selves work; thus they do the majority of household- serving travel. In addition to these facts, there is substantial evidence that women have different preferences, values, and con- cerns about safety (127), security (128), the environmen- tal problems associated with the car, and the various attributes of cars themselves (129â132). All of these facts and trends seem to more than justify a continuing and specialized focus on womenâs travel issues. The overall focus of this paper has been on whether menâs and womenâs travel patterns are becoming more similar. But the emphasis on convergence and divergence has slightly other possibilities. It is possible that some men and women will change their activity and travel patterns over time to create new patterns, different from those seen historically. And some menâs and womenâs behavior may converge in old or new patterns whereas others do not. For example, if some men take on more household duties but different duties than their wives or partners, perhaps their travel patterns will be both new and still different from those of their spouses. Other men and women may equally share the same family duties, creating new travel patterns, which are similar for both sexes. Another key issue is the long-term impact of race and ethnicity; the United States is rapidly becoming a diverse country through immigration from abroad and higher birth rates among some ethnic groups (133, 134). In fact, white non-Hispanics are no longer the majority of the population in major metropolitan areas from Los Ange- les to Miami. Although not widely considered in travel behavior research, important travel differences by race and ethnicity in young and old travelers have been found in licensing rates, miles traveled, number of daily trips, and propensity to carpool or use transit (114, 135â137). Unpublished data from the 2001 NHTS show similar patterns; white women, for example, are substantially more likely to be licensed and depend on the car for their travel than are minority women, even when income and other relevant variables are controlled for. As in the past, in 2001 there were greater differences between men and women within each ethnic and racial group than between white non-Hispanic men and women. Several conference presentations addressed these issues as well and suggested that some aggregate differ- ences in travel by women and men may actually be explained by gender differences in race, ethnicity, immi- gration, or assimilation status, or all four variables, because those variables are linked to either major differ- ences in income, family structure, household roles, and employment status or substantial differences in cultural norms and values. It is possible that the patterns of white, non-Hispanic men and women are converging while those of other ethnic and racial groups are creating the differences that remain between the sexes in the aggregate. But this discussion begs another important question: with assimilation will Hispanics or Asians or other major ethnic and racial groups begin to resemble white non-Hispanics in many ways, including greater convergence in the travel patterns of men and women? Or will they too develop new travel characteristics, dif- ferent from their own historical or traditional patterns but perhaps also different from those of the majority cul- ture? And will gender differences be embedded in these new ethnic or racial travel patterns over time? A more comprehensive understanding of the impact of key sociodemographic factors on activity and travel patterns and consideration of whether these factors are likely to have differential implications for some or all women and men are needed. It is necessary to move beyond the simple question: When and why do menâs and womenâs travel patterns differ? Instead one should ask which menâs and womenâs patterns are becoming 20 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION
similar and when and if new or hybrid patterns are evolv- ing that converge or diverge by sex and why. CONCLUSIONS AND NEEDED RESEARCH Summary Overall, womenâs travel patterns are likely to continue to diverge substantially from menâs in a variety of areas even as they continue to converge on some aggregate measures. The analyses presented here strongly suggest that many of the ways in which womenâs travel differs from menâs are distinguished by any or all of the follow- ing characteristics: â¢ The differences are major and will persist because the underlying causes are not likely to change rapidly (or at all), â¢ They occur because women continue to be a sub- stantial majority of groups with specific travel needs and patterns, and â¢ They reflect real differences between the sexes, either physical (such as effects of crashes) or societally constructed (such as making employment and ultimately travel decisions based on household roles). Why Continued Resistance to Study of Womenâs Travel? Given the foregoing characteristics, why is it so difficult to get some researchers and particularly travel behavior researchers to accept that study of womenâs travel behav- ior is justified? The history of the three conferences on womenâs transportation issues (these are the proceedings of the third conference) is illustrative. The first confer- ence, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transporta- tion (DOT), was held in 1978; when the initial conference announcements were issued, DOT was considered for the humorously named golden fleece award given to the pub- lic agency that most wasted taxpayer dollars; the political commentator George F. Will wrote a column in Time denouncing the conference, the organizers received hate mail, and many notable travel behavior scholars made clear their reluctance to be involved in such an activity. Each of the two subsequent conferences faced opposition, albeit diminishing, but still some influential scholars believed that there was no scholarly justification for addressing womenâs travel issues. Does it really make sense to assert that a major vari- able explaining travel behavior is not really sex but rather household role or income or marital status? Isnât that assertion beside the point when so many of the âexplanatoryâ variables are and have been so closely associated with being female, and hardly in an acciden- tal way? Why it is so difficult to get researchers in this area to confront the fact that men and women have dif- ferent travel patterns, differences likely to continue for a long time? When sex is an easy bit of data to gather and household role is difficult, why is there so much resis- tance to associating behavioral differences with sex? Some resistance to studying womenâs travel behavior lies in the fact that womenâs behavior was never a major component of research on travel behavior, and it is always easier to continue long-term trends than to estab- lish new ones. Although various disciplines (mainly geography, sociology, and anthropology) have addressed household and personal travel for decades, most of the systematic research on travel behavior grew out of the need to facilitate the development of U.S. highways and address peak period traffic congestion (138). Because this approach focused narrowly on work travel, which is only a small part of most peopleâs travel, it omitted women, who did not work outside the home as often as men in the 1950s and 1960s, when such research began (139, pp. 1â11). Thus from the beginning, most system- atic travel behavior studies did not need to examine womenâs travel patterns. Even when women entered the labor force in greater numbers, the emphasis on only their commute behavior gave a distorted view of their travel patterns and obscured differences between the sexes (for example, for decades regional studies did not analyze linked trips because it was thought they were too small to matter). Probably just as significant, it appears that resistance to studying womenâs travel per se is a response to the possible political nature of the research agenda; indeed, some feminist researchers have made various political or equity arguments in support of research on womenâs travel (140; 141, pp. 158â168; 142). A negative response to demands for research on womenâs travel based on feminist or advocacy positions assumes, of course, that most travel behavior studies are apolitical in the questions they ask, the methods they use, the data they gather, and the analyses they produce. In reality, the way in which different researchers concep- tualize travel behavior questions (or other complex ques- tions) and the methods they use to answer them significantly affect their outcomes in ways that are often just as subjective as overt advocacy. Unfortunately, there are as many difficulties with these so-called scientific approaches as with more quali- tative ones and they strongly affect how research on womenâs travel is treated. Indeed, many researchers fail to recognize that some mathematical relationships can be statistically significant without being at all important and that some relationships that cannot be measured in ways that allow their statistical significance to be calcu- lated are important. 21UNDERSTANDING WOMENâS AND MENâS TRAVEL PATTERNS
Probably the most significant problem with many quantitative approaches to understanding travel behavior is that researchers are required to make large and some- times debatable assumptions in all aspects of their research and modeling. For example, many studies begin by assuming that womenâs travel will not differ from menâs in ways that cannot be explained by traditional socioeconomic variables. That initial assumption may lead researchers to make other assumptions, for example, that in a one-car household all drivers have equal access to the car, an assumption that is unlikely to be true. It is not surprising then that such approaches do not find that womenâs travel differs from that of comparable men. Other problems flow from the first. Quantitative researchers often need large amounts of data, and they are often forced to rely on what is available rather than on what they need. This requirement causes researchers to use proxy variables for many factors, which may poorly repro- duce the phenomenon being studied, including underlying differences in how women and men made travel decisions. Even if researchers are able to collect the data they need, it is often difficult to accurately quantify the important social variables that underlie travel behaviorâfrom personal atti- tudes to cultural beliefs. In fact, there is a vicious cycle at play. Because many travel behavior researchers do not respect more qualita- tive or less statistically based research, they do not read it and fail to profit from the insights offered by that lit- erature. Thus they do not recognize or challenge the questionable assumptions in their models and methods. A superficial analysis of the travel behavior and model- ing literature over the past two decades shows little acknowledgment of the vast body of research on womenâs travel issues in geography, sociology, public policy, and city planning. For all these reasons many travel behavior researchers have developed models that simplify realityâalthough they are often enormously complexâbut come nowhere near describing, let alone understanding, the multifac- eted social environment within which most women and men make their travel decisions. This approach has car- ried over into many program analyses or policy studies that fail to collect gender data or analyze their data by sex (for example, incentive programs for carpooling or transit use) (7, 143). Relying on such work, many trans- portation planners tried to develop transportation pro- grams that did not differentiate between men and women. Guaranteed-ride-home programs, for example, were designed to encourage transit and carpooling by allowing people who did not drive alone to work to get home quickly to respond to their childrenâs or aging par- entsâ needs in an emergency. Early studies found that these programs were mostly used by men in middle or upper management because most women were less secure, âpink collarâ workers who did not want their employer to think that family responsibilities interfered with their job or were worried that the costs would be subtracted from their pay (144). Indeed, qualitative approaches can have the problems that more quantitative researchers ascribe to them: they can reflect solutions in search of problems, fail to apply rigor to their analyses, and, as with quantitative researchers, assume things they ought to be proving. But many disciplines and researchers argue that if done cor- rectly, such approaches add tremendously to the under- standing of complex societal phenomena (145â147). To advance research on womenâs travel issues, it is necessary to bring various research communities together and develop multiple and interconnected approaches to understanding the complex societal factors that influ- ence the travel behavior of women and men. In the best traditions of social science research, all researchers need to build on or challenge the full body of work that has gone before, using the insights of both qualitative and quantitative studies to sharpen their focus, define their hypotheses, and give meaningful con- text to their analyses. In so doing, the right questions about womenâs and menâs travel behavior can be askedâ and, it is hoped, can start to be answeredâby using a combination of methods without advantaging either qualitative or quantitative approaches, or indeed specific quantitative approaches (148). Needed Research The large and continuing differences between women and men have substantial policy implications in a variety of areas from safety to security, from equity to environmental pollution, from mobility to sustainability. It is crucial that continued resistance to studying womenâs travel behavior be surmounted and research be structured that provides the information needed to (a) evaluate fully the impact of governmental policies like road pricing, transit subsidies, or sanctions on automobile use and (b) develop and plan key transportation, community design, employment, hous- ing, and public health programs and a host of related pro- grams and facilities. Given the substantial growth in all aspects of womenâs travel, an effective and efficientâlet alone equitableâtransportation system cannot be devel- oped unless the underlying causes of the differences in the travel patterns of women and men are recognized. The foregoing analyses suggest that multiple approaches are needed that â¢ Examine convergence and divergence in detailed travel patterns by traditional and nontraditional socioe- conomic variables, including both those that can reason- ably be described quantitatively and those that require more qualitative analyses; 22 RESEARCH ON WOMENâS ISSUES IN TRANSPORTATION
â¢ Evaluate the implications of differences between men and women in attitudes, beliefs, preferences, and values about the underlying causes of travel (security or safety concerns, concerns about the driving task, willing- ness to be a passenger rather than a driver, etc.); â¢ Expand the knowledge of the travel behavior of groups long studied and fill in the data blanks for groups about whom little is known, such as younger single adults living alone and those working part time; and â¢ Identify travel differences or similarities by sex associated with land use and community design and the availability of different transport options for both young and older adults as well as for their children and grand- children. In addition, as other papers in these proceedings com- prehensively describe, there are substantial differences in the safety needs of men and women, in part because men and women differ in their exposure rates and risks and in part because there are still important safety differences for men and women with comparable exposure and risk rates. Therefore research is also needed on differences in crash rates and crash outcomes by sex as well as a focus on phys- ical or innate differences between the sexes in key aspects of travel from the dimensions of cars and other vehicles to passive and active vehicle safety systems, roadway attri- butes and signage, and transit service characteristics. This kind of research is needed to â¢ Provide a better understanding of why most womenâs travel or safety patterns are not the same as most menâs, â¢ Question if and for how long the differences will last, and â¢ Evaluate whether and what policy or planning responses are required. Of course, not all travel differences between women and men, even if long-lasting, are a problem; not all disparities indicate transportation barriers that must be addressed. Variations in personal preferences, attitudes, and beliefs may underlie some of the differences; historical constraints and traditional values that are changing may underlie oth- ers. But it is important to try to understand the nature and expected duration of the travel differences between women and men to offer appropriate customer service options in all transport modes, to ensure safe and secure use of the transportation system, and to develop and enhance public policy in a variety of transportation and related arenas. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author thanks Cheryl Winston-Bartlett for prepar- ing all the 2001 NHTS data runs. 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