Research by University of Minnesota associate professor Yingling Fan has confirmed what many parents already know: Women spend more time running errands than men.
But Fan also found women spend less time commuting to work. That’s good, right?
Not so fast. Fan’s study of 17,800 workers used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. She looked at various household configurations, including singles with and without kids, and single and dual breadwinner couples, with kids or not.
For singles, the average daily travel time to work is roughly the same for men and women. Likewise, couples with no kids see little difference in the commuting times.
Couples with kids see a marked gender difference in commuting times. Women in a single-breadwinner household with kids spend 41 minutes commuting — vs. 54 minutes for men. And women in a double breadwinner household with kids spend 33 minutes a day commuting, compared with 49 minutes for men.
Fan says women with kids often take jobs closer to home and schools for convenience sake. But that could be to the detriment of their careers.
Fan, a mother of two youngsters, ages 3 and 2, was drawn to the topic because she’s a working mom. She and her husband settled in Golden Valley because it’s a nice split in commuting times — Fan works at the U in Minneapolis, and her husband commutes to Coon Rapids.
She hopes her research, which will be published in the journal Transportation later this year, will prompt a discussion about the need for policy initiatives and more research on gender disparities in work travel.
The other facet of Fan’s research involves a pretty big disparity in time spent running errands between couples with kids. Women lose out in that realm — by far. Was Fan surprised? “Not at all,” she laughs.