The impact of the MeToo scandal on women's perceptions of security

Elsevier, Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 147, May 2021
AitBihiOuali L., Graham D.J.
This study assesses whether the negative exogenous informational shock of the MeToo scandal has affected women's perception of security. The MeToo movement was first reported in the media worldwide in October 2017, and has received enormous press coverage since then. The exogenous and unanticipated nature of the scandal provides a natural experiment that we can use to quantify how wider external information affects ‘ordinary’ women's perceptions of security and their willingness to report feelings of dissatisfaction with security levels. To do so, we use a case study of women's’ perception of security in 12 metro systems in Europe, for which we have large-scale unique customer satisfaction data over the years 2014 to 2018. We use interview dates to determine perceptions pre and post scandal, and we take the MeToo scandal as a ‘treatment’ affecting women in the sense that they were the primary target of the informational shock. Using pre and post treatment data, for our defined treated (women) and control (men) units, we apply a difference-in-differences estimator to identify the impact of the scandal on perceptions of security. Our results show a 2.5% increase in the probability of women being dissatisfied with security in stations and in metro carriages post-scandal. These results support the conclusion that revealed preferences are only revealed up to a certain extent. A change in the context (e.g., an informational shock), can alter perceptions and in turn, can encourage individuals to disclose lower (or higher) satisfaction levels as perceptions of the norm change.