Advancing Equity in Accessibility and Travel Experiences: The Role of Gender and Identity


Ying Song, Yingling Fan, Yaxuan Zhang, Ania McDonnell

May 2023

Report no. MnDOT 2023-10

Gender can have a significant influence on people's behaviors and experiences. Hence, excluding gender diversity in transportation research and practices can result in biased or incomplete understandings of issues and perceptions about transportation and quality of life.

This study examined whether and how gender, in a broader sense, can result in distinctly different activity-travel patterns and subjective well-being (SWB) outcomes using survey data. The study reviewed existing literature and found that gender was not binary meaning that some gender identities were not solely female or male. The literature also indicated a person's gender typically intersected with their other social identities such as race and family type and created unique needs and experiences.

To address the complex nature of gender, the team collected new data using the Daynamica smartphone application and included specific questions concerning (1) participants' gender identities and attitudes toward gender roles, (2) their share of household-supporting tasks in 14-day travel diaries, and (3) their emotions during trips and activity participation. The team used 2021 Daynamica survey data and 2019 Travel Behavior Inventory data from the Metropolitan Council to extract activity-travel patterns before and after COVID-19. The team associated these patterns with participants' gender and other identities and SWB outcomes through visual explorations and statistical analysis. The findings suggested the importance of capturing the complex, intersectional nature of gender, confirmed the persistent existence of gender differences in transportation needs, experiences, and SWB outcomes in Minnesota, and supported continuous efforts and investments to advance gender equity in transportation.

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