As the population of the United Kingdom continues to rise with the number of new homes struggling to feed this increased demand, and with wages barely able to keep up with existing house prices; many people have to move further away from their jobs to live in areas which they can afford, meaning longer commute times on average.
Despite this universal issue, it has been found that there is a ‘Commuting Gender Gap’ where men are more likely to face longer commutes than women. We will analyse the data made available by the Office of National Statistics to check this trend.
Which Gender Commutes Longer on Average?
The data shows that almost two thirds of all commutes which last at least an hour are taken by men, while as the commute time falls, the ratio swings into the favour of women, with 55% of journeys lasting 15 minutes or less being taken by women.
Despite the gender gap here, the positive news is that the population density for each of these ‘buckets’ shows that the commute for all genders is most likely to be 15 minutes or less, and least likely to be 1 hour or more.
Which Modes of Transport are Most Common by Gender?
The statistics also provide an analysis into the modes of transport that are used by each gender.
If we first analyse the most traditional methods of commute, we can see that commuting by train is most likely to be chosen by men (a method used for long commutes), whereas women are more likely to take the bus or walk to work (methods used for typically shorter commutes).
Interestingly, the car is the most equal, and is also the most popular, being used for 65% of all commutes by either gender.
Cycling is shown as one of the most unequal forms of commute, being dominated by men.
Perhaps the stories about cycling on rush hour roads being dangerous make the more pragmatic women take safer modes of transport.
The same can also be applied to commutes by motorbike.
Are Gender Differences Consistent for Each Region?
When we further the analysis to look at the gender split per region in the UK for commutes lasting at least an hour, we can see that there is only one region where there are more women taking these longer commutes than men.
The greatest difference from the data shows that the East of England has 76% of long commutes undertaken by men.
The data approaches equal in London which probably shows the fact that longer commutes are necessary regardless of gender, though this is still 60:40 in favour of men.
The North East is the only region of the 12 where more women commute for at least an hour.
Further to making the most commutes for an hour or more, men also make up the majority who are commuting from one region, and working in another:
From the data, we can see that 9% of all commuters regardless of gender are commuting from one region, to work in another.
Of this 9% population, 65% are men.
There is not a single region where there are more women than men in this proportion who are making the journey between regions.
This is most pronounced in Scotland, where only 23% of the commuters to a different region are women.
Apart from London, all regions show that women are more likely to commute for 15 minutes or less to their place of work.
The area where this is most pronounced is in the South East of England, where just 42% of men have the shorter commute.
Are Any Regions “Gender Equal”?
Interestingly, London is the only region to see anything close to gender equality of commutes.
Perhaps this is due to it being a region where having a short commute is a rare commodity.
Of the data analysed, there has been a clear upward trend in the number of people needing to take longer commutes.
The number of those taking at least one hour to commute has risen over 30% in the last 7 years.
The commute gap for these longer journeys is also becoming less distinct, with the increase in men taking these journeys by 27% in the last 7 years, which is small compared to the 39% increase for women in the same period.
For London which is where the most of these longer commutes takes place, the number of women travelling for more than an hour has increased by a huge 41%!
This is responsible for half of the total increase in these longer commutes by region.
In the current world where we are moving closer to equality in various aspects of life, it does make you wonder where other significant ‘gaps’ exist, and whether they justify the implementation of any correction policies.
In the case of the commute gap, I wonder what the situation would look like if we could resolve the issue of jobs being typically concentrated in major cities, and if we could improve the number of affordable houses in all areas.