Current transport systems do not take sufficient account of the physical or social characteristics of women in the design of products and services, or in fostering women’s employment in the industry. For example, only 22 % of transport workers are women and the transport sector itself is one of several sectors that have traditionally been regarded as ‘no place for women’. So, what would make public transport fairer for women as users and employees?
The transport sector has been traditionally regarded as “no place” for women. Currently only 22% of transport workers in the European Union are women
Fairness in transport
Fairness is a broad and somewhat ambiguous concept which evolves and changes over time. In the main, the terms “fairness” and “justice” both tend to be used interchangeably to describe how decisions are made and how individuals are treated within a community. From a transport users’ perspective, the concept of fairness tends to focus on notions of social justice where groups that share the same needs and abilities are treated equally and have the same access to transport resources e.g. disabled people having similar access as others to public transport. This can be defined as equality of outcome and is related to ideas of distributive justice, where the benefits and burdens of transport systems are distributed equitably amongst and between individual groups and communities.
There are a variety of personal characteristics which impact on individuals’ ability to access fair transport service including, but not limited to, sex, gender, age or disability
When discussing fairness in transport, it is important to remind ourselves that ‘fairness’ applies to all people, but certain types of unfairness disproportionately affect people with certain characteristics, in particular different types of women. For example, women may struggle or be unable to make the journeys that they need to accommodate caring or simply be poorly served by services designed to support commuting for full-time employees.
Women are also likely to feel unsafe when waiting for transport late at night, or are disproportionately responsible for childcare and so only travel shorter times to work or may need transport at different times.
Women’s fair inclusion as transport users is dependent on urban planners and transport operators taking account of women’s needs in the design of new transport products and services
Therefore, a fair transport system must also provide equality of opportunity where various groups of people who have different characteristics such as sex, gender, age or disability also have opportunities to access services suited to their needs and requirements.
The importance of providing equal opportunities to female employees
In relation to fair employment for women in the transport industry, there should be equal opportunity for women to access all types of employment within the sector. Equality of opportunity in the workplace means that all people will be treated equally or similarly and not disadvantaged by prejudices or bias based on individual characteristics such as their sex or gender. For a business, this means that everyone should have an equal chance to apply and be selected for posts, to access training and to be promoted.
Once employed in the transport sector women should also be able to access equal working conditions (working hours, access to facilities such as toilets etc.) together with fair and equal outcomes such as opportunities for promotion within the organisation. Social justice in the workplace helps to promotes a fair workplace for all employees by challenging injustice, valuing diversity and providing a legal framework within which employees and employers can bargain collectively for the improvement of conditions of employment.
Fairness in transport, therefore, should not reflect solely on one characteristic (i.e. sex) but on a range of characteristics such as employee’s childcare responsibilities, age, ethnicity, and other characteristics present in anti-discrimination and human rights legislation.
Dr Yvonne Hail
Research fellow based in the Management, Work and Organisation department of the School of Management at the University of Stirling. Yvonne has worked on multiple research projects at a national and international level and DIAMOND is her second Horizon2020 project.