There are not enough women in the transportation industry – and that has a detrimental impact on the way in which transport infrastructure and transit services are designed, with often little thought given to the mobility needs and travel patterns of women. Comprising only 15% of the 14.8-million-person transport workforce and even less at the CEO and C-suite level, women’s voices in transportation have long been underrepresented.
The knock-on effects of this lack of input are stark: consideration for personal safety has an impact on access to good travel choices, which means simply being a woman increases the cost of travel compared to men. “Women are used to paying more for safe transportation,” says Laura Chace, president & CEO of ITS America. “Women use the system differently: we end up using multiple modes perhaps in one day or in one sitting; we end up losing time and that can equate to reduced economic opportunity - because your access to transportation is so intricately linked to economic opportunity.”
This year, ITS America and partners The Ray and WTS International Foundation, launched the MobilityXX initiative to address the issue. “MobilityXX is focused on the need to have more diverse perspectives in the transportation workforce so that we can actually create these outcomes for safer, more equitable choices for all,” says Chace.
MobilityXX: practical steps
The ITS America 2021 Annual Meeting here in Charlotte is a good time to take stock. At the MobilityXX Breakfast and Session, which starts at 08:00 AM on Thursday 9 December, there will be a discussion on practical steps to encourage diversity, inclusion, retention, and advancement.
Sponsored by Iteris and Deloitte, the event features a high-level panel: Jannet Walker-Ford, market leader, transit and rail, WSP; Iteris general manager Ramin Massoumi; Selika Josiah Talbott, principal at Autonomous Vehicle Consulting; Leslie Richards, CEO of Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; Josephine Tucker, senior manager, transportation strategy and analytics, Deloitte; and Hilary Nixon, deputy executive director, Mineta Transportation Institute.
They will highlight the importance of ongoing mentorship for women in our industry. MobilityXX is committed to boost the number of women in the transportation industry by 10% over the next 10 years – which is highly significant because census data suggests that the number of women in the industry only increased by 3% in the last 15 years. One breakfast topic sure to provoke discussion is the MobilityXX corporate pledge programme.
“It is really based on this premise that we need diverse perspectives around the table to lift everyone in order to represent all of the communities that we are purporting to serve,” says Chace. “We are asking public sector and private sector organisations to commit to taking two actions to increase the number or influence of women. Examples are things like having diverse hiring panels: when you’re hiring for positions, committing to interview diverse candidates; or things like creating a sponsorship programme for women in your company and committing to increase the number of women on your boards.”
Many companies have joined already and Chace says there is a clear desire for change. Crucially, she believes the ’10 by 10’ target is achievable and that the pledge creates a platform where companies and organisations can take committed action.
“The more people, the more companies and organisations swe can get to commit to this, we do believe that we will see results,” concludes Chace.
Thursday 9 December
08:00 - 09:15 am
East Wing E219D
There is a fee associated with this session