NEWS - 2021/06/15

Mobility Patterns from a Gender Perspective

On 12 May, at 5:00 p.m. CET, the ‘Mobility Patterns from a Gender Perspective’ meetup organized by CARNET and the UPC was held in Barcelona at Cal l’Alier and streamed online. Over 50 online attendees listened to the presentations of several specialists in urban mobility who discussed ideas, challenges, and contributions to gender equality in urban mobility (UM) made from their areas of expertise (academia, industry, and public administration).

Silvia Casorrán, Counsellor of Mobility and Accessibility for the Sant Martí district in the Barcelona City Council, together with Joan Maria Bigas, Head of the Mobility, Transport and Sustainability Area of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) were in charge of the opening. Both tackled the differences in mobility between men and women. According to Casorrán, while men mainly travel for work, women do so for children or elderly care. Considering this fact and that women use public transport more intensively than men, female users require greater flexibility in mobility. During his intervention, Bigas highlighted the importance of making visible the role of women in UM, recognizing the need for considering the gender perspective not only in mobility design but also in the leadership of transport companies and the public administration, aiming at reducing today’s existing gap.

Afterwards, three specialized lectures and a round debate led by the executive director of CARNET Laia Pagès took place. The speakers tackled urban mobility patterns from a gender perspective on three levels. Starting from a global level, Imma Ribas, a UPC professor, presented a tour around the globe, identifying that there is still a difference in mobility patterns between women and men. She described the situation of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, finding that almost 80% of people involved in care-related mobility are women. Since women’s travel chains are more complex than men’s, these figures show the adverse consequences when transportation planning focuses primarily on commuting. Likewise, Ribas emphasized that risk’s perception determines the choice of mode of transport, finding it necessary not only to improve the infrastructures but also to create safe personal conditions.


Oliva García, Chief of Research & Development in NOMMON technologies, supported the previous literature findings by recounting a personal experience: she had to change her mobility patterns due to an unsafe situation and discovered that other women do too. In other words, women are not totally free when deciding their transport mode or timetables. To support this personal knowledge, she showed the results of a study with mobile geo-located data carried out by NOMMON on the mobility patterns of the Spanish population, concluding that women move differently. However, highlighted that these differences are not only a matter of gender but also of age, (e.g. trip’s duration and trip’s average speed, both appearing in the middle age and probably associated with the care economy). García concluded that, even when is still needed more research to better understand the reasons behind these differences and their implications for mobility planning, it is time for action plans.

Finally, Carles Casas, Director of Strategic and Prospective Planning of Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC), spoke from a local perspective, presenting the commitment and practices carried out in his institution to make visible and include the gender perspective in their services and processes. He presented some results obtained from the DIAMOND European project, whose aim is analysing and converting data into knowledge to move towards a more inclusive and efficient transportation system from a gendered perspective.  It also involves carrying out audits in many areas of their system to improve the perceptions of safety (e.g. in stations, vehicles, surroundings, etc.).

Although it is undeniable that differences in mobility patterns related to gender continue to exist, it is important to highlight and recognize the efforts taken by the different institutions and organizations. This new mode of proceeding is highly positive to reduce, and perhaps one day, to definitely erase these gaps.