The commuting gap – more women quit their jobs over long travel times


New research from the UK’s Office of National Statistics reveals that women are more likely to quit their job over a long commute than men.


The analysis, which isolated the impact of commute time on the likelihood of leaving a job, found that women who have an hour-long commute are 29.1 per cent more likely to leave their current job than if they had a 10-minute journey to work, compared to 23.9 per cent for men. Men were also more likely to stick with a long commute if it meant higher pay.


Men therefore do the majority of high-paid jobs, which in turn contributes to the gender pay gap.


Women favour shorter commutes of 15 minutes or less, while men do the majority of jobs that are an hour or more. This, says the report, is likely due to women doing the majority of childcare and unpaid work, and therefore preferring the flexibility of a shorter commute. This is supported by research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), which reveals that the gender commuting gap follows the same age-pattern as the gender pay gap – both open up as people reach their mid to late 20s. (The average age for a first-time mother was 28.8 in 2017).


If women take a job closer to home, the pool of jobs available to them not only reduces, but employers may be able to exploit the fact that mothers are only comparing wage offers to a local set of alternative employers. IFS state that further research into this area will be carried out. 


Campaigners haven also pointed out that rail companies in the UK unfairly penalise part-time workers (the majority of whom are women), as reduced season tickets are only available on a full-time basis.


To read the ONS data in full, click here