Researchers and international organizations such as the International Transport Forum (ITF), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU), as well as the whole society, have highlighted the need to develop measures for a fairer transport system that can improve women´s participation in order to build a sustainable and equalitarian society by:
- improving their user experience in the public transport system,
- increasing their safety and comfort,
- boosting the usage of bicycle sharing schemes through its adaptation to women needs,
- improving the user experience and design of new vehicle technologies as the autonomous vehicles to increase women´s acceptability, or
- improving working conditions and developing fairer recruitment processes to increase the percentage of women working on the transport sector.
Fairness principles should apply to all people (regardless of gender or other characteristics). To clarify what fairness in transport means, the DIAMOND’s research team has recently published a paper in the indexed journal “Sustainability”. This paper discusses the concept of ‘fairness’, specifically regarding women using public transport, future autonomous vehicle taxis or bicycle sharing.
In the three scenarios it is highlighted the need to take special consideration to people with low income and/or child-care responsibilities and to factors of safety and security, cost, and design of transport infrastructure and vehicles. The concept of fairness in transport incorporates many aspects including equal opportunity, equity and justice (procedural, distributive and social justice), each of which has implications for transport planning and policy. A range of both, horizontal fairness factors (i.e., similar people being treated similarly) and vertical fairness factors (such as more disadvantaged people being supported more), that need to be taken into account to ensure that greater overall fairness is achieved in the transport system is also highlighted by this paper.
On the other hand, a full list of factors affecting the participation of women as users of railways, bicycle sharing schemes and autonomous vehicles, and as professionals in the transport sector and their classification into clusters or groups forming a hierarchical model were published by the DIAMOND research team in a previous work. Factors as safety and security, accessibility, mobility, design, economic, environmental, sociological, socioeconomic and personal conditions, among others, are shown to hinder the fair participation of women as users and professionals in the transport sector.
The recent work developed by the DIAMOND´s team entitled “Application of Mathematical and Computational Methods to Identify Women’s Priorities in Transport” ranks these factors by level of importance. Through four surveys, a total of 697 responses around Europe were collected and analysed with the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) methodology.
Priorities for a more gender inclusive railway stations
Feeling safe in a railway station is the main priority of women and of the whole society. Inside safety, measures should focus on reducing their feeling on overcrowding and emergency situations at stations; followed by measures to reduce harassment and pickpocketing and to give support to women if this happens.
Secondly, measures should focus on improving the availability and efficiency of the service by providing accurate timetables, appropriate frequencies and on time trains fitting their mobility and errands needs.
Some profiles of women, i.e. women travelling with dependents and women living in rural or suburban areas differ slightly from the priorities of the whole sample. On one hand, women traveling with dependents gave special importance to the universal design (i.e. the design of the station should make it accessible for everyone, with adequate lifts, escalators for people carrying things or traveling with a baby in a pram, and disabled people). In addition, they gave higher importance than other profiles to how harassment and pickpocketing affect them in the use of rail public transport. On the other hand, women living in rural and suburban areas gave more importance than other profiles to the cleanliness and maintenance of stations.
Future scenarios regarding railways stations, as the Hyperloop, were also addressed by the study. In the future, the weighted hierarchy of factors for women when using the railway system would be:
Figure 1. Ranking of factors that will influence women in the use of Hyperloop. Source: (link)
Priorities for a better acceptance of autonomous vehicles by women
This study shows that the factor with the highest influence for women to accept an autonomous vehicle is simultaneity or multitasking, i.e. while driving or travelling from one place to another it would also allow them to perform additional tasks such as reading, working on the computer or watching a film.
Secondly, three factors appear very closely to each other as relevant for the acceptance of autonomous vehicles by women: benefits on health mainly due to a decrease of the air pollution and reduction of stress due to not having to drive in stressful situations, the trust in technology, and non-monetary benefits obtained by increasing traffic safety or time savings. Women need to feel safe and trust on autonomous vehicles’ decisions in order to have a comfortable trip.
Women travelling with dependents gave higher importance than other profiles to aspects related to simultaneity, congestion, accessibility, vehicle efficiency and public health. For women traveling with dependents the most important factor is to be able to take care of those who need their help (simultaneity) and comfortable during the travel (public health), while the time needed to reach their destination was not as important. In addition, women who have experienced discrimination gave higher importance than the overall sample to accident rates, human errors, or congestion issues. However, they also indicated as the most important factors simultaneity, public health and vehicle efficiency.
The work also addresses future scenarios by considering fully autonomous vehicles – L4+, which include level 4 and level 5 autonomous vehicles, according to SAE classification and adopted also by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). The automatic driving features of these L4+ automated vehicles will not require the user to take over the driving increasing their safety, comfort and reducing driving stress. In this future scenario, the hierarchy of women for the acceptance of automated vehicles will be the following:
Figure 2. Ranking of factors influencing women on the use of fully autonomous vehicles. Source: (link)
Priorities for a higher use of bicycle-sharing by women
The AHP analysis shows that bad weather conditions and hilly terrains are the most influent factors on the decision of using bike sharing systems by women. Other influencing factors, in order of importance, are:
Figure 3. Ranking of factors influencing on the use of bike sharing schemes by women. Source: (link)
The provision of bicycles or electric bicycles with child seats could enhance the use of bike-sharing services by women. In addition, it is needed a cultural change towards the use of bicycles as a sustainable mode of transport getting rid of any prejudices and then of any sociocultural constraints. Also separate bicycle paths from normal traffic could help women feel safer and increase their usage.
Women who have ever felt discriminated gave higher importance than other groups to insufficient infrastructure, driver behavior, and proximity of docking station. On the other hand, women living in rural and suburban areas and low wage earners gave more importance than other groups to family responsibilities. In addition, women in rural areas gave less importance to infrastructure.
Priorities for fair employment in the transport sector
Results of the AHP analysis showed that the most critical factor affecting the attractiveness of the transport system to women is how it is capable to give an appropriate answer to the need of caring and parenting responsibilities.
Other important factors are the equalitarian and fair recruitment, promotion and design of job positions. It seems logical that for a higher participation of women in transport, first, women should want to work in the transport sector; then, their family responsibilities should allow them to fully commit to the job they want, and then, a fair recruitment process is needed to allow them their access and finally work in this type of positions.
The analysis of different women profiles showed that women living with dependents and women who have experienced discrimination consider theavailability of appropriate facilities (e.g. toilets and dressing rooms for women) and resources (e.g. modes of transport to the work) as the most important factors.
Future scenarios, based on the employment in drone logistics, were also analysed. In the world of tomorrow, priorities for women to choose drone logistics as an employment option would be:
Figure 4. Ranking of factors that will affect women on their involvement in drone logistics related jobs. Source: (link)
AITEC is a private technological center located in Valencia (Spain) and established in the year 2002. Its research and consulting lines are always focused on the transport and logistics sector. AITEC is assuming the technical coordination of the DIAMOND project and it is leader of relevant work packages as the conceptual framework and the validation of the final DIAMOND Toolbox.