Exploring Indian women's inclusion in smart mobility
Pauline Baudens, a dedicated researcher and PhD candidate who joined FinEst Centre in the spring of 2022, is currently on an exciting journey in India to study the realm of smart cities and women's mobility practices.
Her research focuses on understanding how women are included in the digital revolution of smart cities and how they utilize mobility apps to navigate their daily lives. After conducting extensive fieldwork in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pauline has now set her sights on Pune, India, to continue her research.
A lively photo showcasing traditional rickshaws in the bustling streets of India (Photo: private collection)
The core objective of Pauline's thesis is to examine the transformative impact of digitalization and ride-hailing apps on the daily (mobility) patterns of women, specifically within the context of Indian cities. India is a unique and dynamic setting to observe the rise of digital practices.
While new apps are facilitating mobility and increasing transport options in Indian cities, they are also reproducing social, economic and caste inequalities. India is an effervescent society, mixing traditions and “modern digitalisation”.
Despite the challenges, Pauline says she enjoys going to the field and observing the digitalisation of women's (im)mobility practices: "It is the fun part of the challenging PhD work!"
Cooking support through delivery apps and women empowerment through ride-hailing services
Recently, Pauline had the privilege of conducting interviews with over 30 remarkable women. She shared two intriguing findings.
The first topic explored the usage of delivery apps to support women in their daily routines, particularly in cooking tasks. Pauline discovered that delivery apps have proven to be a game-changer for many women, providing convenience and time savings. Married women appreciate how these apps help during tight schedules.
Interestingly, Pauline observed that some young unmarried women acknowledged the benefits of these food delivery apps but expressed concerns about the potential addiction they can create due to their ease and accessibility.
Radiant in Saris: Pauline with Indian women elegantly adorned in vibrant saris, celebrating the joy of a wedding (Photo: private collection)
The second topic Pauline explored focused on the impact of ride-hailing platforms like Uber and Ola on women's safety and empowerment. Through her interviews, there was a sense of gratitude among many women for these services. Ride-hailing platforms not only provide a safe and reliable transportation option but have also become catalysts for women's empowerment in Pune. Pauline discovered that many women in the city actively engage in night activities, whether due to work commitments or for leisure, enjoying the nightlife.
India is definitely rich for its' various means of transportation in the city (Photos: private collection)
Pauline continues her research journey and holds a value in understanding the complex interplay between technology, societal norms, and gender dynamics. Hopefully with the findings of her work, she brings us closer to creating more inclusive and equitable smart cities.
If you're looking for an opportunity to expand your expertise, join the FinEst Centre and gain international experience, keep an eye on the opening PhD positions in Tallinn University of Technology. The FinEst Centre's brilliant team is constantly expanding!