Gender equality in the transport sector can decrease emissions with 29 per cent


If everyone travelled like women and if female norms were considered in an equal way in decisions that influence the transport system, the use of energy and emissions from passenger transport would decrease by 29 per cent. This is shown in new research that we present in a report commissioned by Vinnova, Sweden’s Innovation Agency.

Jämställdhet i transportsektorn

In Sweden equality should be a matter of course but that is not the case – and especially not in the transport sector. In this sector the issue is bigger than equality itself since women’s behaviour and attitudes are more sustainable in general. The earlier gender equality aspects are included in the planning process, the more benefits can be gained.

Differences in the way women and men travel

The differences between how women and men travel are well documented and comprehensive. What differs most is the choice of transport mode and the length of trips. Women and men make about the same number of trips per person and day, but men travel considerably further and do so predominantly by car and by air.

Women make linked trips to a higher degree than men, i.e. they make more errands per trip. Moreover, if there are alternatives to the car, women choose these to a greater extent than men do.

– “If everyone travelled in the way women do today, the energy use and emissions from passenger transport in Sweden would decrease with almost 20 per cent. Furthermore, the use of the car as a mode of transport would already be on the level estimated to be sustainable for the year 2050,” says Lena Smidfelt Rosqvist, head of research at Trivector.

Behavioural change is important in climate change adaptation

Passenger transport and freight transport together constitute one-third of Sweden’s emissions and must be changed as we tackle climate change adaptation. In addition to technical development extensive behavioural changes are needed.

Earlier studies of the transport system have not to a great extent considered the importance of changes in attitudes, values and norms with regard to travel behaviour and choice of mode of transport. In the future it is likely that these will be given a larger role, considering that the challenge of the transport system’s climate change adaptation requires behavioural change.

In research presented in the report it is stated that the current transport system is characterized by male norms and values as well as the fact that women are grossly underrepresented in the municipal bodies that make decisions about transportation. Sustainability is a field in which the differences in values linked to travel are consistently found between women and men.

“In general, men are less motivated than women to change their travel habits to more environmentally friendly behaviour. In addition, more arguments are needed to persuade men than women to change their behaviour. This difference between gender is bigger for issues relating to transportation than for other environmental issues. Women are also generally more positive to measures made in the transport system to combat climate change.

More information

More about our services and expertise within socially sustainable transport

Research and reports (in Swedish) about “Gender equality, transport planning and climate change adaptation”

Vinnova’s report

Want to learn more?

Please contact Lena Smidfelt Rosqvist or Christian Dymén