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

Principal Investigator(s):

Ying Song, Assistant Professor, Geography


  • Yingling Fan, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

In 1993, Minnesota became the first US state that amended its statues to prohibit discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation and gender identity. In transportation, however, research and practices still use male and female to define a person's gender and examine gender differences in travel behaviors and transportation needs. This overlooks that gender exists beyond a simple binary model of the gender binary and can be nonbinary. This also ignores that a person's gender identity, or their internal sense of self in relation to gender, does not always align with their sex assigned at birth or the sex designation on legal documents. And such gender identity may not conform to dominant gender norms and can largely influence a person?s behaviors, experiences, and subjective well-being (SWB) outcomes as well.

This project will investigate whether gender and gender identity, in a broad sense, may lead to distinct activity-travel patterns using existing and new survey data collected at the individual level. The project will first use the Travel Behavior Inventory (TBI) household surveys from Metropolitan Council to compare people's activity-trip sequences and group people with similar routines. The project will then describe each group's routine with a focus on gender roles, or a society's expectations of how men and women should behave, and identity gender-typical behaviors on the outside (a.k.a. gender expression). The project will relate these behaviors to the gender (self-reported, not binary) and other demographic, economic, and social characteristics of each group to examine whether gender has significant impacts on the behavioral outcomes. To further capture the complex nature of gender identity and its impact on the travel experiences and SWB outcomes, the project will collect additional data in Greater Minnesota using a smartphone survey app. The new survey data will include questions to collect a person's gender identity (such as their gender pronouns) and the SWB outcomes of each trip and activity participation. The project will use this new data to identify potential spatial disparities and marginalized communities across urban, suburban, and rural areas in Minnesota.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2022004
  • Start date: 05/2021
  • Project status: Active
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Accessibility metrics, Equity