Gender equality: Is travel time a good proxy?

“Bored yet? You may be, but don’t blame the data: the finding that men and women travel virtually the same amount is dramatic, cast-iron proof that we have reached a golden age of complete gender equality in America”

is the conclusion of this piece from the Freakonomics blog. I read the findings with interest – the parts about age being a significant determinant of travel time made good sense too. But I am not sure travel time is the ultimate indicator of gender equality – of course, I am not a expert on the subject. Is Eric Morris suggesting that in an unequal society, men would travel more than women? Or is it the other way? This piece doesn’t quite clarify.

In a poor country like India for instance, women may spend more time travelling simply because they do not have the same access to money/vehicles as the men.

On the other hand – what about making comparisons based on mapping trails of men and women travelling? This is something we already do en-masse in PRAs in villages as an indicator of social mobility. For urban societies too, distance travelled may be a useful indicator.


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