Earlier, I wrote about my experiences using public transportation from the Peninsula to downtown San Francisco, including my Caltrain ride each morning. My Caltrain ride is usually on an express train line, which has 3-4 stops before reaching the city in about 30 minutes, or occasionally, a later, all stops line that takes 45 minutes.
Now, among all of the 10 stops between, Hillsdale and the end of the line in San Francisco, there is only 1 stop (South San Francisco) where passengers upon departing the train, will have to cross the tracks to reach the platform.
From where I’m sitting on the train at that stop, I’ve noticed that there are some differences in how various people approach those tracks:
- Some people will step on the tracks to propel themselves to the platform.
- Others will step over the tracks and then step on to the platform.
As I watched this, I had a hypothesis that men would most likely step on the tracks while women would step over it. My reasoning is boys being boys– from a young age, boys like to jump, climb, run, and the little opportunity to step on a railroad track and get a head start to almost launch himself to the platform is simply natural to men. On the flip side, for women, I felt that without that inherent boys being boys quality, women would be not see any value from stepping on the track and simply step over it.
Here’s a low quality video from my iphone of the specific stop and passengers stepping on or stepping over the tracks.
So, I watched from different cars on the train over the course of several days on two different lines, the earlier express line and the all-stops line so to try to see different people’s responses to the tracks. (Now, I can’t be sure that there aren’t some of the same people on the sample who may have switched cars or lines (just as I had on these various days) but I believe that the potential overlap is limited and wouldn’t materially change the results). Here are the results of my admittedly small sample size of commuters.
Sample Size: 46 passengers, 70% Male, 30% Female
On Tracks vs Over Tracks
All: 72% on the tracks; 28% over the tracks
Men: 84% on the tracks, 16% over the tracks
Women: 43% on the tracks, 57% over the tracks
- As I had expected, a higher proportion of women stepped over the tracks then on the tracks—57% compared to Men, only 16%
- Why is that? While the high 84% of men stepping on the tracks may be explained by the boys being boys hypothesis, the only 43% of women stepping on the tracks is probably due to a variety of factors:
- Shoes- not surprisingly, high heels and boots creates caution in stepping on a non-flat surface (although some of the women who did step on the track did have heels)
- Boys being Boys factor—not inherently as fun for women as men to do the semi-jump.
- Backpacks and laptop bags—women carrying potentially heavy bags would find it easier to step over the track.
- Overall, I do think the boys being boys trait is a strong, life long characteristic—makes a guy without hesitation step on the tracks and do a semi-jump—84%.
Once again, not going to get any Pulitzer prizes for this study, but this is who I am 🙂