Research highlights gender commuting gap

Men undertake almost two-thirds of commutes lasting more than an hour,  according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics, with the ‘gender commuting gap’ opening up after the birth of a first child.



Analysis of the statistics suggests it may be linked to childcare issues and women working more locally where jobs are lower paid and so contributing to the gender pay gap.

The ONS figures also reveal that women tend to undertake shorter journeys to work, accounting for more than half (55%) of commutes lasting 15 minutes or less.

But, for all commuters, journeys are most likely to last 15 minutes or less and least likely to last more than an hour.

Men are also more likely than women to commute by train while women are more likely to walk or travel by bus.

The car is the most equal and the most popular form of transport; it accounts for two-thirds of all commutes by both men and women respectively.

Cycling to work

In contrast,  men account for 74% of those who cycle to work.

Around 9% of all commuters live in a different region to their place of work, and 65% of them are men. This trend is seen across the UK, particularly in Scotland where 77% of those commuting from elsewhere are men.

However, although men remain more likely to make commutes lasting more than an hour, this rise over time has been led by women. The number of women with long commutes is up by 39%, compared with a 27% rise for men.

In particular, the number of women travelling for more than an hour to work in London has increased by 46% since 2011, accounting for more than half of the overall growth in long commutes for women. The ONS speculates that this could be linked to growth in longer commutes for those working in health, social care and education, sectors dominated by women.

Analysis of the figures by the Institute for Fiscal Studies finds  the ‘gender commuting gap’ starts to widen after the birth of the first child in the family and continues to grow for around a decade after that. This bears a striking resemblance to the evolution of the gender wage gap.

It shows that women’s commuting times fall significantly after the birth of their first child while men’s do not and may be linked to the gender pay gap. It says that, if women take work closer to home because of caring responsibilities, they may be less likely to find a job well matched to their skills or with a high-paying employer. When setting wages employers may also be able to exploit the fact that mothers are only comparing those wage offers to a relatively local set of alternative employers.

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