Gender gaps in urban mobility: a new study by ISI Foundation, UNICEF, NYU Governance Lab and Telefónica Chile shows disparities and inequalities

Cities are not gender-neutral, nor is urban mobility. In a new paper out in Humanities and Social Science Communications,  an international team of researchers, including ISI Foundation Ciro Cattuto, Laetitia Gauvin, Michele Tizzoni, Stefaan Verhulst and Simone  Piaggesi, analyzes call detail records for a large cohort of anonymized mobile phone users, to reveal a gender gap in mobility.

Supported by United Nations Foundation's Data2X,  through the Big Data for Gender Challenge, the work is a collaboration of the ISI Foundation Data Science for Social Impact group at the OGR  Tech, in Turin, with UNICEF, NYU Governance Lab and Telefónica Chile. Researchers combine commercial and open datasets for the city of Santiago, Chile, with two main objectives: first, to assess and quantify gender disparities in the mobility patterns of the city's residents; second, to identify socio-demographic factors and the availability of transport options that are associated with mobility inequalities.

The study uncovers a complex interplay between gendered mobility patterns,  socio-economic factors and urban affordances, calling for further research and providing insights for policymakers and urban planners. Among results, researchers find that women visit fewer unique locations than men, and distribute their time less equally among such locations. Mapping this mobility gap over administrative divisions, they observe that a wider gap is associated with lower income and lack of public and private transportation options. Investigating the role of gender in urban mobility is key to better understanding of whether women and young girls can fully benefit from opportunities offered by cities –  scientists say – and in the process realize their human rights.

“Gender gaps in urban mobility”, Laetitia Gauvin, Michele Tizzoni, Simone  Piaggesi, Andrew Young, Natalia Adler, Stefaan Verhulst, Leo Ferres  & Ciro Cattuto. Nature – Humanities and Social Science  Communications, 17th June 2020. Link