Census Data Show Public Transit Gender Gap

(Photo CC by Flickr use NYC Arthur)

Women are more likely to ride public transportation to work than men. Men are more likely to drive to work.

The latest data from the American Community Survey of the U.S.  Census show: Of the people who take public transportation to work, 50.5 percent are women and 49.5 percent are male. That might not seem like a difference worth mentioning until you consider the workforce overall.

The American adult workforce is mostly male, and by a decent amount: 53 percent male to 47 percent female.

One theory is that type of occupation is correlated with gender, and women are more likely to be in mid-level jobs (so earning less, and looking to spend less on commuting) in offices, which tend to be more likely to be in city centers serviced by transit.

Interestingly, men are slightly more likely to carpool than women in the U.S. and women are slightly more likely drive to work alone relative to the general population of workers.

For solo drivers nationally it's 52.6 percent male (slightly less than their 53 percent share of the workforce).

For carpoolers it's 54.7 percent (a touch more than their 53 percent of the workforce.) Meaning it's men who tend to carpool more than women among those who drive. But just by a hair.

It's transit where the gender gap spikes.

The gap is especially wide in cities where transit is more readily available than it is nationally.

New York City public transportation commuters are 52 percent female, 48 percent male according to the American Community Survey. That's despite the fact that the general workforce in New York City is 51.5 percent male and 48.5 percent female. For drivers, that flips.

Of those who drive to work alone in the five boroughs, 60 percent are male.

Mitchell Moss, the Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at NYU, says, it is "a reflection of the gender differences in occupations. Sole drivers include commuters to high income managerial and financial positions, as well as self-employed craftspeople that require a vehicle to carry equipment and materials." Those workers are more likely to be men.