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Are women greener than men? A preference analysis of women and men from major German cities over sustainable urban mobility

Kawgan-Kagan, Ines

FG Integrierte Verkehrsplanung

Travel patterns in daily life differ greatly between women and men, and differences in socialisation substantially impact travel mode choice. The literature has demonstrated a higher affinity towards local public transportation and sustainability for women. Men, by contrast, show a higher affinity towards cars, technology, and innovation. However, sex and gender factors have not been considered when examining innovative, sustainable urban mobility so far. A gender-sensitive perspective, therefore, is necessary to increase the possibility of using sustainable modes of transportation, including carsharing with battery-powered electric vehicles and, therefore, improve the quality of life in larger cities. This article closes this research gap with an analysis of a representative sample of 2400 respondents from four major cities in Germany based on Robin Law's theoretical framework of gendered daily mobility from 1999. In addition to socio-demographic, economic, and mobility-related factors, attitudes towards transport modes and the preferences for e-carsharing services are analysed to provide deeper insights into gender differences of urban dwellers. Grouped by age and gender, the presence of a child in the household is associated with different changes in preferences for specific modes of transport for women and men. Although the results indicate that urban women are more concerned about environmentally-friendly mobility in general and use cars less often than men, more women than men prefer going by car if there is a child under the age of 14 years in the household. There is unequal access to resources in mobility, which is in line with financial aspects being the main reason against car ownership for urban women. Parenthood has a positive effect on the acceptance of carsharing with battery-powered electric vehicles for women and men. In conclusion, gender differences result from different daily tasks, but there are also significant differences beyond this aspect that show a socially constructed gendered meaning of sustainable urban mobility. This research improves the understanding of sustainable urban mobility regarding gender differences, that is, the increase of car use of women with children, and the rejection of women of new mobility services. Only when gender differences are considered in planning processes, it will be possible to improve the quality of living in urban areas by reducing urban space scarcity, local and global emissions, and noise exposure.