Verkehrsplanung und Verkehrstechnik | Institut für Verkehrswissenschaften

Technische Universität Wien

Abstract DI Bente Knoll

Travel and Mobility Surveys. Introduction to Gender Planning

The thesis with the title "Travel and Mobility Surveys. Introduction to Gender Planning" examines the connections between gender - the social aspects of gender - and plan¬ning. Its objective is to show the relevance and importance of gender in planning organizations and processes. Taking on a gender perspective means discussing exi¬sting gender relations and hierarchies on the one hand, and actively contributing to changes towards increasing gender equality on the other hand.

 

The first chapter Positioning Within Gender Theories introduces the thesis' theoretical foundations. Feminist research and gender studies examine the different life realities of people and discuss gender relations, gender attributions and gender constructions. In an overview, I trace the lines of the development of feminist planning with an emphasis on the second wave women's movement in the German-speaking countries since the 1970s.

 

The second chapter Gender/Planning demonstrates how planning is always embedded within preexisting gender relations, gender attributions and gender constructions in our society. People make the planning, and move within organizations, are educated by and within organizations like schools, universities, and technical colleges, and they work in public administrations, in associations, companies, and political organizations. A quantitative gender analysis of the actors within organisations that design, plan, and realize measures for traffic engineering in Austria, which is now available for the first time on this scale, clearly exposes the unequal gender relations statistically. Not only the biological sex of the actors is reflected in organizations, but also gender: the body of literature has shown that gender constructions are inscribed in internal pro¬cesses, in work culture, in the way women and men are perceived within organizations. Planning is always embedded in specialist discourses, doctrines, so-called general principles of planning, fashions of planning, and the ideas and visions of the "great thinkers" also have an impact on planning. In the specialist discourse on planning there are a great number of assumptions into which gender constructions are often implicitly ("We plan for all people"), and at times explicitly ("The stroller ramps for women"), inscribed. Last but not least, planning is situated within academic and scientific discourses; as engineering science planning is in most cases - intentionally or not - located at the interface of "social science" and "technology"

In Austria, planning processes are governed and influenced by a number of normative guidelines, like spatial and regional planning acts and the building regulations in each province. Legal regulations are not gender-neutral, instead, their guidelines reflect traditional concepts of living, working etc. Spatial structures of the built environment, infrastructural measures in a broader sense, as well as plans must be conceived as practical "products" or as the outcome of planning processes embedded in planning discourses and "produced" by gendered organizations. Thus, gender and, consequently, power relations are inscribed within these structures and basic conditions.

In this chapter I will schematically and conceptually elaborate on how a gender per¬spective can and must be integrated into planning, as well as how gender planning can be realized to come closer to attaining gender equality. Here, gender mainstreaming is a strategy that supports change. Devised as a horizontal objective, gender main-streaming introduces a perspective of gender relations into all political (and thus also planning) processes, and aims to achieve gender equality. In Austria, gender main-streaming has been included as a strategy in numerous decisions on both a state and local levels.

 

In the third chapter Travel and Mobility Surveys gender attributions and constructions are revealed using the example of a behavioral method: the household survey. Current mobility surveys from Austria and Germany, such as, the Upper Austria Travel Survey ("Verkehrserhebung Oberösterreich", 2001, the national survey on Mobility in Germany ("Mobilität in Deutschland", 2002), as well as the Lower Austria Mobility Survey ("Mobilitätsbefragung Niederösterreich", 2003) provide the concrete examples for analysis.

 

The feminist analysis shows that not only the interpretations of the data, but also the questionnaires reveal reductions and simplifications, which veil crucial aspects in the behavior concerning mobility, particularly the behavior of caregivers in their every-day lives. Thus, the common methods of mobility survey do not adequately examine short trips, trips taken to accompany others, or complex combinations of single distances. Even though paths along the way, such as a small detour to the dry cleaners on the way to work, are important parts of everyday mobility, they cannot be found in the analyses. The categories available under so-called "travel purposes" reflect patriarchal life concepts: trips made in connection with domestic work and care giving are either underrepresented or fully hidden. The social duties predominantly assigned to women based on the prevailing gender order remains invisible and are nowhere to be found in the data interpretation.

In most cases, the analyses and interpretations of mobility surveys do not differentiate between genders or life circumstances. In addition, interpretations and prognoses do not usually mention the interdependencies between settlement structures, the infra-structure available, and traffic.

The feminist analysis shows that crucial information on people's mobility behavior cannot be surveyed, analyzed, or interpreted with the usual methods. Hence, not all the basic and necessary information is available for traffic and settlement planning.

 

A way to make up for this deficiency is to develop new methods. In an empirical section, I will introduce the method "mapping everyday trips," a gender-sensitive method for surveying people's everyday mobility that combines elements of surveying spatial structures of the built environment. This gender-sensitive method provides gender-specific information on everyday mobility and also conveys background information on people's mobility. It demonstrates the manifold character of mobility and shows that people cover a great number of distances in their everyday lives based on rather different and often combined travel purposes.

Using visual representations of the manifold mobility patterns and trip combinations of women, men, and youth in a sample inner-city area of Vienna, I visually map out, and therefore literally trace, their patterns.

The explorative survey makes a contribution to integrate the gender perspective within the methods of travel an mobility surveys.

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