Census Data Show Public Transit Gender Gap

Sunday, December 09, 2012 - 12:01 AM

(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. 


Comments [8]


This is a little old, but some facts for anyone who still cares:
- Housing decisions are predominantly made by women and men end up commuting longer distances than women as a result.
- Women residing in suburbs choose to work close to home at a lower income, relying on husbands to commute further to earn more. You can't separate men's from women's choices that easily.
- Women actually outnumber men in the workforce. That was true since 2011. The article was written in 2012.
- Poor women have special housing allowances in urban centers which are not equally available to poor men. Thus poor women have better access to mass transit.
- Women outnumber men in NYC, by about 400,000
- FSHA makes it illegal to market or sell housing exclusively to men while making it legal to market or sell it exclusively to women.

Jul. 16 2013 12:02 PM

The photo makes me ask myself why I don't live in NYC...

Dec. 11 2012 04:29 PM

How do you reconcile these two statements?

Men are more likely to drive to work alone than women.
...women are slightly more likely drive [sic] to work alone relative to the general population of workers.

Dec. 11 2012 11:41 AM
Alex Goldmark

Thanks for the editing Zoe. Hope it's more clear now. Though, I stand by the "mostly" designation.

Dec. 10 2012 05:42 PM

I'd be curious about ways to compare ridership based on type of profession, level of income, and education. It used to make me feel alternately sad and annoyed when I would take the subway to my grad school program (at Pace University, which is served by umpteen different train lines) and half my classmates were driving in, solo, in their cars. Some of them would admit that they felt an obsessive need to control their environment (temperature, music, seat, speed, etc.) but I think in the current era that's both selfish and unrealistic...

Dec. 10 2012 02:16 PM

While there may be some interesting nuggets of information here, this is a poorly written article.

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

Editing errors aside ("In American adult workforce"?), how can you see these percentages (each 3% away from 50%) and conclude that the American workforce is "mostly male"? More likely to be male than female, yes - but mostly male? Please.

Dec. 10 2012 01:54 PM

There are some other theories that should be considered when explaining this data. When it comes to human interactions, it is still ingrained behavior for men to be able to demonstrate to women that they are capable of providing the basics. When on transit, men do not have any extension of themselves to prove their worth. Kevin, I second your proposal for restricting CBD traffic. My policy would include establishing a zone within the CBD where only electric vehicles would be allowed along with pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Dec. 10 2012 09:13 AM
kevin bains

i have nothing but utter contempt,for the carbon imprint gluttons,that have a need to drive themselves into manhattan,solely to transport their bodies to office jobs. in my world, only people who needed their vehicle to perform their job, would be allowed to drive into the city. if the political will were there,it would make so many things so much better for everyone.

Dec. 09 2012 09:18 PM

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