Tim Schwanen - Abstract – Københavns Universitet

Tim Schwanen - Abstract

Gender and Smart Mobility: automation in the UK freight transport sector

By Tim Schwanen and Debbie Hopkins

The transport sector is undergoing what seem to be a series of fundamental changes in response to environmental imperatives and technological advances. Prominent among the latter are developments in information technology and automation, which are not only spurring waves of innovation – e.g. autonomous vehicles and mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) – but also opening up the transport domain to new actors and to incumbents from other sectors. The implications of these developments go beyond moving people and goods around in novel ways, and also include the possibility of reconfiguring prevailing discourses and practices around gender and mobility. This study analyses the prospects of such reconfiguration in the context of rising automation of transport in the UK. Specific attention is devoted to freight transport because this is characterised by very stark gender inequalities. The study makes use of discourse analysis of government and industry publications as well as interviews with stakeholders from the freight sector. It concludes that there is indeed potential for greater gender diversity. However, citational use of gendered language and visualisations to make sense of automated transport alongside the sector’s many inert institutions risk perpetuating existing discourses and practices around gender and mobility.