Women make up half the population, but jobs in innovation, tech and infrastructure aren’t reflecting that. Research shows that of the 15 million jobs in transportation, less than 15% of those are held by women. In the tech sector, fewer than 19% of women are STEM graduates and only 1 in 4 computing jobs are held by women. This leads to the so called ‘pink tax’ where women pay sometimes twice as much to use transportation, and without women designing systems, we see inequities grow. So how do we overcome this massive challenge to overcome the fact that - without action - it will take 200+ years before the US achieves gender equity?
In April 2022, the United State Department of Transportation (USDOT) and 90 federal agencies released a comprehensive Equity Action Plan. The plan targets underserved, overburdened, and disadvantaged communities and seeks to help them increase transportation access, economic prosperity, and engagement. With new investment from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, USDOT has more resources to enhance the US transportation system.
To lessen inequitable impacts in transportation, the USDOT’s Equity Action plan focuses on four focus areas: (1) Wealth Creation, (2) Power of Community, (3) Interventions, and (4) Expanding Access. USDOT hopes these goals will support communities historically underserved and advance jobs and economic growth. To reach these goals, the department developed a strategic plan that identifies key performance indicators, outcomes and critical gaps to hold them accountable to this five-year plan. This plan includes a ‘Gender Justice’ team at the USDOT to ask how these goals advance gender equity for women and women of color.
USDOT notes that the Equity Action Plan is a living document. A major piece of legislation that supports the Equity Action Plan is Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The order will be implemented by the Equity Leadership Team (EQLT), which consists of individuals well-versed in topical areas.
The Equity Action Plan is also a way of implementing the President’s Justice40 Initiative, a program that allocates 40% of government investment in clean transit projects and support to marginalized communities’ transportation systems.
Women have been historically underserved and disadvantaged within the transportation, technology and other systems. It’s critical that they receive support from the federal government and male allies to ensure that we take action. Key actions include learning about the federal government’s equity goals, sharing information about this work with colleagues, and volunteering to act as an ally to women in your industry.
The federal government’s emphasis on equity presents a window of opportunity for women and women of color to make sure that they get the resources they need. Whether it’s government funding for your small-business or making sure we remove barriers to growing women in your field, the Equity Action Plan actively supports disadvantaged communities in getting the technological and financial resources needed to enhance their economic well-being. Additionally, it ensures that women’s voices are heard as important investment decisions are being made. As the poet Amanda Gorman wrote, “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”
About the Authors
Kristin R. White. J.D.
Chief Operating Officer
Intelligent Transportation Society of America
Kristin White is the Chief Operating Officer of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America). As COO Kristin’s role is to promote policies that advance the development and safe deployment of emerging transportation technologies to advance safety, equity, access, mobility and sustainability. This work includes overseeing the strategic direction of future transportation policy, developing a cohesive national vision for AVs, empowering local communities, engaging thought leaders, and promoting equity and economic prosperity. In this work, Kristin champions MobilityXX – a public-private partnership to advance gender equity in transportation.
Kristin is a lawyer, policy strategist and innovator who brings empathy and leadership into the transportation sector, challenging us to harness revolutionary technologies and grow new partnerships to build tomorrow today.
Previously, Kristin was the founder and Executive Director of Minnesota's Office of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV-X), one of the nation’s leading tech startups and idea incubators within government that researches and deploys transformational technology and policy. The CAV-X program’s innovations have garnered national attention, including winning the National Cronin Award, WTS Innovative Solutions Award, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce/AASHTO America’s Transportation Award.
Kristin has a B.A. from St. Olaf College, law degree from Hamline University School of Law and global arbitration certification from Queen Mary University of London. She began her career as a Fulbright Fellow with the US State Department and has since represented Fortune 500 companies, cities, and states to advance equitable and sustainable policy.
LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristinrwhite/
Program website: www.its.org
Intelligent Transportation Society of America
Victoria Christopher is a Summer Intern with the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America). She currently supports the ITS World Congress, MobilityXX initiative, and assists the communications and policy departments as needed. Victoria is a student at the University of Redlands, graduating in the fall semester 2022. She is obtaining a B.A. in Public Policy and Business Management with a minor in Spatial Studies.
Her experience includes working as a research assistant for the University of Redlands Environmental Science department, participating in the University of Redlands student government by representing her class as a Class Senator, and serving as an event organizer assistant for the University’s first Worldwide Teach-In on Climate and Justice event. She hopes to pursue a career in energy and transportation policy. In her work, she hopes to facilitate collaboration between parties to provide solutions for public policy problems.
LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-christopher
By Laura Chace, President and CEO, ITS America and Co-Founder, MobilityXX
MobilityXX is a collaboration between ITS America, WTS International, and The Ray to elevate women’s representation and influence in transportation to produce better outcomes for everyone. It is bringing the transportation industry together to increase the number of women in the transportation workforce by 10 percent in 10 years.
Did you know…women comprise only 15% of a 14.8 million transportation workforce, and even fewer are in executive and decision-making roles? The same study, conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute, found that attracting women to non-traditional female industries relies on the perception of the diversity of the organization, early connections with students, incentives, flexible workplaces, a welcoming culture, and connection to congruent communal goals.
Under representation in the transportation industry has real-world consequences - transportation is a key connector to economic opportunity, healthcare, education, critical services and goods, social interaction, and overall well-being. For communities across the nation, transportation is a critical component to economic inclusion and contributing to a stronger economy for everyone.
Successfully promoting women in the transportation industry requires opportunities for advancement, availability of role models (especially female ones) and, retaining women in the transportation industry can be related to actual workplace culture, clear steps to advancement and availability of ongoing mentorship and succession planning. Diversity in leadership and in teams creates favorable business outcomes that benefit men and women alike – more innovation and more profitability. According to McKinsey & Company, companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21 percent more likely to outperform on profitability and 27 percent more likely to have superior value creation.
U.S. Census data shows that from 2005 to 2019, the proportion of women in transportation occupations only increased by 3%. While access to transportation is directly linked to economic opportunity, women are at a considerable disadvantage:
How can we address these inequities? MobilityXX, a partnership of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), The Ray and WTS International, is engaging the broader transportation industry to increase the number of women from all backgrounds in the transportation workforce by 10% over the next 10 years. To effectively solve the complex challenges in the transportation industry, we must include more diverse perspectives at the table to ensure produce better outcomes for everyone.
The MobilityXX pledge asks organizations – in the public and private sectors - to commit to this goal by completing two or more action steps from a menu of options over the next year. These actions are designed to increase the number and influence of women in these organizations – things like baselining gender and diversity makeup and measuring annually, diversifying programming to ensure varied perspectives are represented, creating sponsorship programs to build women leaders, and internship programs targeted to women and diverse candidates to name a few.
We have the power and potential to bring about positive change in transportation by attracting and promoting more women – join us, and take the pledge today!
Women in Autonomy
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