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Girls & Women

Women in NYC Pay a 'Pink Tax' on Transportation, Study Shows


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Safety is a human right. A new study conducted by New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation found women in New York City spend more on public transportation than men, due to safety concerns. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

New York City stopped taxing menstrual products years ago, but now women in the city may have another "pink tax" to worry about, a new study shows.

New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation found women may be paying more than men for transportation in the five boroughs, Curbed reports. They end up spending an extra $26 to $50 per month on car services and taxis as safety precautions. If a woman is her family’s primary caregiver, the amount doubles to up to $100 spent commuting with children or elderly relatives.

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

 According to the study, 75% of survey respondents who identify as female have experienced harassment or theft on public transportation, compared to 47% who identify as male. Respondents weren’t able to quantify the harassment they have endured, and cited experiencing “too many to count” and “countless” experiences. Many women were not likely to report harassment; one respondent said she wasn’t sure what authorities would do to help. 

“This project stemmed from looking at the #MeToo movement,” Sarah Kaufman, associate professor with the Rudin Center, explained to Wired. 

“It got me thinking about the day-to-day issues that women face in major cities,” she said. 

The small study was conducted with 547 people, and a large number of survey respondents identified as college-educated who lived on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Kaufman is confident the same phenomenon exists beyond New York City. The report’s authors hope to complete a second survey with a more diverse range of participants. 

Kaufman told AM New York using the “pink tax” framework to understand the gender transportation imbalance makes the relationship between and a women’s economic standing more clear. 

The “pink tax” is often used to describe a form of gender-based discrimination named for the marketing of the color pink toward women — specifically menstrual products that are taxed as luxury items all over the world. 

Read More: India Just Declared Tampons and Sanitary Napkins Tax-Free

Kaufman’s research raises questions about what opportunities women miss out when they cannot get around safely, or affordably.

“We cannot say that labor force participation is completely entangled with sexual harassment on public spaces and transport, but the data and figures suggest we need to learn more about the correlation,” Karla Gonzalez Carvajal, World Bank Transport Practice Manager, said in October at event hosted by the Rudin Center, according to Wired.

The MTA did not reply to a request for comment, according to AM New York.

While stopping sexual harassment is a larger systemic issue that public transportation systems can’t fix entirely on their own, the report offers suggestions that can help. It recommends adding security cameras on trains, better training for law enforcement who respond to harassment reports, and having women in leadership positions to ensure women’s equality is considered during transit planning.