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Planning for gender equality in transport – it is time to consider the needs of women

Planning for gender equality in transport – it is time to consider the needs of women

Historically, decisions around transport planning have been made by people working nine to five, in offices. Typically, these decision makers have tended to be men. This has meant that often the travel and safety needs of women when travelling, have been overlooked.

But with over half the UK population being female isn’t it time this changed?

Why is there a gender bias in the transport industry?

It is simple. Women make up 47 per cent of the UK workforce yet remain underrepresented in the transport sector, accounting for only 20 per cent of workers. Which means, when transport plans are developed, it tends to be by men, often overlooking the needs of the female population. Whether they’re designing strategic transport networks, making decisions about lighting at bus stops or facilities at truck stops. Forcing many women to opt for the safety of using a private car over public transport when travelling at night, or discouraging women from joining the sector.  

How do male and female travel habits differ?

When we look at UK travel statistics, men dominate access to cars and are more likely to take the train. Women make more frequent, but shorter, trips than men. They are also more likely to be walking or using the bus.  

Women’s travel habits tend to be less regulated, more varied and sporadic. They travel for different needs, at different times of the day. Usually with ‘chained trips’ school run to work, to school run to shops to home.

Their varied nature makes them more difficult to predict and therefore plan for. So we end up with a transport system that doesn’t cater for or support people living their daily lives.

How can we overcome this gender bias?

The only way to overcome this is to actively engage, to continually ask ‘who is not in the room?’, ‘Whose views are not being considered?’

The consultation on our draft strategic investment plan closes on 12 September. To date only 22% of responses received have been from women. We don’t want the transport needs of women to be an afterthought. We want to hear from more women that live, work, travel through or visit the south east region.

The strategic investment plan sets out the transport investment required over the next 30-years in the South East region. It looks at the transport interventions needed to deliver a high-quality, reliable, safe and accessible transport network that offers seamless door-to-door journeys.

It is a high-level strategic plan and there will be further opportunity to comment on the specifics as the work progresses, but it is essential that we get the views of everyone at this stage too.

Please read the plan and respond to the consultation via our consultation website.

You can also watch presentations on the investment plan by visiting our YouTube channel.