March 2023: Women and Commuting
Each month Yolo Commute sends a newsletter to its members with useful information about commuting and transportation. This month’s newsletter celebrates Women’s History Month by discussing women’s commuting patterns and needs.
The history of women’s commuting patterns is closely tied to the history of women’s participation in the workforce. In the early 1900s, most women worked in the home, fulfilling childcare duties, domestic chores, and manufacturing of goods for home businesses.
But by the 1930s, 50% of unmarried women held jobs in the workforce, and this number continued to rise as women became more educated. During World War II, women entered the workforce to support the war effort. This led to a significant increase in the number of women commuters, and it also led to changes in commuting patterns. Women began to commute longer distances to reach jobs in factories and other industries.
As married women began to work outside the home throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, women began to have longer careers and gained greater financial independence and rights. Today, about 56% of women and 67% of men in the U.S. are a part of the labor force.
However, despite women working outside the home at much higher rates than they did 100 years ago, they still tend to be responsible for a larger share of childcare and household responsibilities.
Women may not be commuting alone but might drop children off at school in the morning, then stop at the grocery store in the evening and take kids to extra-curricular activities. Several studies have shown that women feel the stress of a commute much more than men do. They must coordinate multiple stops and weigh the advantages of different modes of transportation.
In order to accomplish these extra tasks, women tend to work closer to home. In Yolo County, 55% of women and 46% of men travel less than 20 minutes to work in 2021. More women walked, biked, or took public transport than men, 12.6% vs 10.6%. However, over 70% of both women and men workers still drove alone to work.
It is important to understand how women commute, because not only do they make up 47% of Yolo County’s workforce, but they also have responsibilities and circumstances that lead them to experience transportation differently. Greater awareness also can lead to workplace practices that are more accommodating. Arrangements such as telecommuting and flexible scheduling make commuting easier and are becoming more routine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As urban planners have noted, when a woman finds transportation to be functional, usable, and safe, it is a good indicator that other people do as well. Workplaces and transportation systems can work together to promote positive commuting experiences this March and beyond.
-Sophia Linnevers, Intern
February 2023: “Discount Transit Pass Program!”
January 2023: “Understanding Your Commute Options with SacRegion511”
December 2022: “Understanding Your Employees’ Transportation Needs”
November 2022: “Guaranteed Ride Home: A Commuter’s Lifeline”
October 2022: “E-Bike Loan Program”
September 2022: “Driving Costs How Much?“
August 2022: “How You Can Benefit from Not Driving to Work”
July 2022: “FY 2022-23 Outlook”
June 2022: “FY 2021-22 Year in Review”