Gender and Mobility: New Approaches for Informing Sustainability


Hanson, Susan. 2010. “Gender and Mobility: New Approaches for Informing Sustainability.” Gender, Place & Culture 17 (1): 5–23. doi:10.1080/09663690903498225.

Author: Susan Hanson


Feminists have long known that gender and mobility are inseparable, influencing each other in profound and often subtle ways. Tackling complex societal problems, such as sustainability, will require improved understandings of the relationships between gender and mobility. In this essay I propose new approaches to the study of mobility and gender that will provide the knowledge base needed to inform policies on sustainable mobility. Early in the essay I survey the large literature on gender and mobility, teasing out what I see as two disparate strands of thinking that have remained badly disconnected from each other. One of these strands has informed understandings of how mobility shapes gender, while the other has examined how gender shapes mobility. Work on how mobility shapes gender has emphasized gender, to the neglect of mobility, whereas research on how gender shapes mobility has dealt with mobility in great detail and paid much less attention to gender. From this overview of the literature, I identify knowledge gaps that must be bridged if feminist research on gender and mobility is to assist in charting paths to sustainable mobility. I argue for the need to shift the research agenda so that future research will synthesize these two strands of thinking along three lines: (1) across ways of thinking about gender and mobility, (2) across quantitative and qualitative approaches, and (3) across places. In the final part of the essay I suggest how to achieve this synthesis by making geographic, social and cultural context central to our analyses.

Keywords: gender, mobility, sustainable mobility, Frances Willard, context

Topics: Gender, Women

Year: 2010

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