STEP for Think Pink and in gender gap micromobility

To celebrate this year’s international women’s day, STEP has decided it will donate 10% for every purchase made between 8 March 2021 and 12 March 2021 to Belgian’s national breast cancer organization, Think Pink. This NPO aids breast cancer patients and their families during hard and unimaginable times. With our donation, we can help Think Pink to raise awareness about breast cancer, defend patients’ rights, finance scientific research, and care & aftercare programs.

We at STEP, believe that the use of (shared) micromobilty devices, such as electric scooters/bikes, electric skateboards, and pedelec, are meant to make your life easier and made to be enjoyed by all. Yet, the majority of users are predominantly male and have been this way for many years. Today, we are going to dig deeper into the industry and look at several factors that have caused this wide gender gap.

Before we look at the factors, let’s first go over a few important figures and data.

Although females represent half of our population, based on existing research done in Europe and North-America, female users of micromobility devices count roughly around 25% - 33%. For operators of shared micromobility, however, it seems that the gap gets smaller the longer the company exists. At STEP, we, unfortunately, recognize this pattern as well, for our female users lays at merely 20%.

What caused this gender gap?

According to Sandra Phillips, the Canadian mobility consultancy movmi, the gap could be explained due to men being quicker to adopt new technologies when comparing to women. The evolution of electric scooters started in 1986 but has never been adopted until the early 2010s. Although, it wasn’t until scooter-sharing-system companies started to pop up everywhere in 2018 when the hype got created. As the norm to use these devices is still fairly small, women seem to perceive the usage to be of risk. To add to this factor is the fact that women evaluated the road infrastructure to be of poor quality and are more cautious about their safety.

Another factor can be gender expectations. It is more common and expected that women give assistance and aid to day-to-day household tasks, such as looking after children/elderly and doing groceries. Micromobility devices are just not suitable to meet their needs.

The third factor we want to address is the design of these e-scooters. Most devices are heavy and big, and can sometimes require more body strength, which is not always ideal.

What we believe can be done to solve this?

An important action to take is to reduce the image micromobility has. Right now, the image is quite male-centered and reckless driving, which can explain women’s anxiety towards their safety.

The next item is better cooperation between the government and shared-micromobility companies. There are little to no rules involving micromobility. Where should they be parked? Where should they be used, on bike lanes? pedestrian area? There are just no clear guidelines, as of yet. This matter can be perceived as a huge red flag for potential female users. This point then leads us to the next action: Investing in infrastructure.

Not only should there be a clear guideline, but it is also important to invest in road infrastructure and in devices themselves to make them more suitable and adaptable to women’s needs.

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