The transportation sector struggles to grow and advance without diverse outreach efforts to attract talented individuals. Diverse outreach efforts are very important to attract diverse groups as they increase creativity and innovation to solve diverse and unique problems. With an increase in equity and inclusiveness concerns in the current times, diverse solutions require diverse labor force.
Even though there has been an increase in the number of women in the labor force over the past few decades, the proportion of women in transportation is very imbalanced. Less than 2 out of 10, or 13 percent, of full-time transportation professionals, are women. To diversify the workforce in the transportation sector, it is important to connect women early in their ages and their career. Connecting with women earlier can help increase their interest and likelihood of them advancing a career in the transportation sector. In order to increase women’s participation in transportation, there have been many efforts underway and some of them are discussed below.
Transit Center’s Women Changing Transit Mentorship Program
Transit Center’s main goal is to make cities more economically vibrant, just and environmentally sustainable by improving transit. The Women Changing Transit Mentorship Program created by Transit Center is aimed to connect women professionals with women leaders in transit. This year-long mentorship program gives women entering the transportation sector to get proper guidance to advance in their careers, networking opportunities and create meaningful relationships.
WTS Foundation’s Transportation YOU
Through the support of WTS members, the foundation has provided over $2 million in scholarships to women pursuing transportation as their career. One of the educational and awareness programs under the foundation is Transportation YOU. Transportation YOU is a mentoring program dedicated to young girls of ages 13-18 to introduce them to a variety of career options in the transportation sector. In this program, young girls are encouraged to pursue STEM careers that are very useful in changing the face of the transportation sector.
International Conference on Women’s Issues in Transportation
The international conference focuses on all related travel and transportation women’s issues. The conference not only discusses women in the transportation workforce but also covers other transportation issues like women’s safety, security and health considerations, women’s travel behavior patterns, women and merging transportation innovations, and planning and policy processes that consider women’s issues. The title of the most recent conference (10th – 13th September 2019, Irvine, California) was “Insights, Inclusion, and Impact: Framing the Future for Women in Transportation”.
In Her Shoes: Empowering Future Leaders in Transportation
One-day event held at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and sponsored by USDOT’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), this event focuses on educating and inspiring young women for a career in the transportation sector. This event gives the participants an opportunity to interact and network with professionals of the industry both from the private and public sectors.
Even with an increase in the number of women in the workforce, the transportation sector is still struggling to attract and retain women in the field. Successful events like the ones mentioned above have been proven to increase women’s interest in the field through networking events and mentorship programs. Focusing on early training, education and mentorship would greatly increase women’s participation in the transportation sector and would be very beneficial for the sector. Similarly, in New Jersey, outreach and mentorship events should be readily available for youth to increase gender diversity in the transportation sector.
 Godfrey, Jodi, and Robert L. Bertini. Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry. Mineta Transportation Institute, 2019, Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry, https://transweb.sjsu.edu/sites/default/files/1893-Godfrey-Attract-Retain-Women-Transportation.pdf.