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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Gender Mainstreaming in Public Transport

Women in the United Kingdom (UK) experience a dual burden of remunerated employment and other-focused care activities, which complexifies female travel patterns. However, transport networks in the UK are optimized for male-normative commuting patterns, thus underserving female users. As a result, women are rapidly shifting from public to private transport use to meet their distinct mobility needs as it becomes financially accessible. This shift is reflective of a wider societal dependence on private vehicle use, which is a more emissions-intensive mobility pathway than public transport.  

The objective of this dissertation is to identify opportunities to optimise the UK public transport network for female users as a mechanism to incentivise public transport use and disrupt the shift of women towards private vehicles. To accomplish this, UK transport professionals were consulted regarding three gaps identified in the literature: planning processes, professional gender representation, and network organisation. A qualitative web survey was used to establish the current state of gender mainstreaming in transport, and semi-structured interviews were employed to identify opportunities to improve gender outcomes in UK transport networks.  

Survey data indicate that gender mainstreaming tools are insufficiently used in public transport planning, and interviewees pointed to the further integration and standardisation of existing tools as a critical step to improve the visibility of gendered concerns in transport planning. Survey results indicate that professional gender representation is unequal in the transport sector, and that this disparity influences project outcomes. Interviewees indicated that improved hiring practices and education mandates can improve gender representation in the sector. Finally, as it pertains to network organisation, survey results indicate that the current network and future planning alike prioritise commuting over other trip types, and professionals pointed to improving network connectivity and station infrastructure as opportunities to optimise the network for non-commuting trips. Due to the small sample size of this research, the results of this dissertation are not generalisable to all UK public transport professionals. Future work may consist of increasing the research sample size to improve the generalisability and subsequent applicability of these results. 


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.