These executives have seriously extreme commutes
JetBlue (JBLU) founder David Neeleman commutes 10 hours from his home in Connecticut to his new airline Azul’s headquarters in Sao Paolo once a week, reports Quartz in a piece about extreme commuting. One of his reasons for not moving to South America? “My wife wasn’t so interested in moving,” he told the publication. Another executive Quartz interviewed, Erik Church, has a five-hour commute from Toronto to Vancouver because his wife’s medical practice is based in the former city.
While it is indeed admirable that Neeleman and Church are willing to make these kinds of sacrifices for their spouses, it is interesting to understand why they—and not their wives—are the ones making them.
In 2014, men’s commutes were longer than those of women by an average of about 3 minutes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. However, when it came to commutes over an hour long, they were made by 10% of men, and only 7% of women. Much of the reason that men commute more than women is historical: studies have found that women have had shorter commuting times than men since the 1980s. Given the still-typical gender roles than men and women play, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. As the traditional caregivers in a household, women tend to stay closer to home to care for family.
However, there is another factor at play here, and that is psychology. According to a 2011 analysis of the British Household Panel Survey, commuting stresses women out significantly more than men. After controlling for all other factors, the study found that commuting has a detrimental psychological effect on women, but not on men. In fact, women hate commuting more than anything else they do on daily basis—more than housework, and more than actual work. Men, on the other hand, don’t mind it too much, according to the survey.
For more on this topic, see Fortune’s recent 100 Best Places to Work for Women.