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6 Women have been traditionally underrepresented in the transit industry. However, as more women enter the workforce and job opportunities within transit agencies increase, the value of having a more diverse workforce is apparent. Diverse workforces, including those with increased numbers of women, bring varied benefits to the organizations such as a better understanding of customers and the services they need due to employees being able to relate to a wider customer base; a more satisfied workforce; and higher organizational performance (Hunt et al. 2014, Jauhari and Singh 2013). Organizational performance improvements associated with gender diversity include increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits (Herring 2009). With the current recognition of the importance of a diverse workforce, it is valuable to assess representation of women within the industry. Examining the representation of women within transit has identified a number of barriers in attracting women to transit occupations, motivating them to stay for an extended time, and promoting them to higher levels. However, transit and fields that have traditionally had a large proportion of men have begun to implement strategies to address why men have been hired at significantly higher rates than women have. This chapter provides research gathered through a literature review of transit articles and information sources, as well as academic research on recruiting, retaining, and advancing women in careers across industries. The chapters that follow describe in more detail the current representation of women in transit, barriers encountered, and strategies focusing on women employees within transit. Current Representation of Women in Transit General Transit Occupations According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 39% of the occupations of transit and ground passenger transportation as of June 2019 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019); however, the percentage varies substantially depending on the line of work (Kermanshachi and Sadatsafavi 2018, Sneider 2012). As shown in Table 1, which depicts the representation of women in select transit occupations, 44% of bus drivers are women but the percentage of women is substantially lower across all other transit-related occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019). Previous research has shown that in transit agencies, women are typically under- utilized; this means that based on the availability of women within the local labor market, transit agencies are hiring men at a disproportionately higher rate (Batac et al. 2012). Table 1 provides the percentage of women in select transit occupations. Women in Leadership Roles Within Transit Agencies Examining the occupational levels of transit positions, women hold 11% to 21% of corporate management and supervisory positions (National Transportation Institute 2017, Voie 2016, C H A P T E R 2 Literature Review
Literature Review 7 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018). A case study in San Francisco found that just over half of transportation organizations surveyed had less than 10% of their women employees in manage- ment positions, and few transit organizations (4%) had 50% to 59% of women in mid-level manager positions (Batac et al. 2012). Additional research has shown that 12.9% of execu- tive officers and 13% of board director members in U.S. transportation and warehousing are women. One study, however, found that when looking at transit CEOs, women were poorly represented (Sneider 2012). As such, the research literature indicates there is a great deal of room to advance women in transit agencies and improve their representation in management and leadership positions. Major Barriers to Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit When examining barriers that keep women from entering into and developing in careers within transit, there are several themes that arise. Specifically, these themes include â¢ A general lack of transit job outreach to women and inclusive promotion strategies toward women. â¢ Social factors conveying the message that men traditionally perform transit jobs. â¢ The dominant masculine culture in transit agencies, due to the proportionally greater presence of men in the workforce population. â¢ Safety and health concerns applicable to women. â¢ Challenges with accommodating responsibilities outside of work. Each of these barriers can influence womenâs decisions to seek employment in transit, their satisfaction with positions once employed, and their ability to be promoted. The following text further explains these barriers. Lack of Job Opportunity Outreach The general lack of effort toward advertising and outreach for job opportunities in transit to women is a significant obstacle for women seeking employment in this industry (U.S. Depart- ment of Transportation 2011a). As an occupation that has traditionally had a large proportion of men, girls and young women seeking employment often are not informed of job opportunities in transit. As such, many of these girls and women are unaware of the types of jobs available, qualifications for employment, or the benefits of the jobs. Similarly, the perception of limited career development is another challenge in attracting women applicants. Some women believe transit jobs are limited to entry-level tasks, as they do not know or see the path for developing Occupation Percentage Women (%) Bus drivers 43.8 Cleaners of vehicles and equipment 15.2 Engineering technicians, except drafters 18.1 Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists 0.9 First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers 5.9 Supervisors of transportation and material moving workers 23.2 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (January 2019). Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm. Table 1. Representation of women in select transit occupations.
8 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit career opportunities (Cronin et al. 2011). Contributing to this lack of women in the transit workforce is the shortage of support or encouragement from family, schools, or guidance coun- selors, or other sources of job information when discussing career options with young women (Adya and Kaiser 2005, Amaratunga et al. 2006). Social Factors As in other occupations in which men make up a large proportion of the workforceâsuch as engineering, IT, or constructionâindividuals often learn from a young age that transit work is traditionally performed by men. Social sources that include the media, peers, and even family members may send the message that men belong in the types of positions available in transit agencies and that women should look elsewhere when considering future careers (Adya and Kaiser 2005, Turnbull 2013). Due to the lack of visible women role models in these jobs, it is difficult for both men and women to envision women working in various careers within transit (Packard 2003). Furthermore, because traditional societal role expectations suggest that women are better suited to work in nurturing or more social careers, there is a general perception that women may not have the needed skills for transit jobs or be successful in transit careers (Michie and Nelson 2006). Womenâs lack of confidence in their ability to successfully perform transit jobs as a result of these social factors also then becomes a barrier, especially when they consider enter- ing into transit careers (Pinarowicz et al. 2011). Feelings of incapability may prevent women from applying to transit occupations, as well as confirm perceptions from men that women are not as capable or interested in these jobs (Michie and Nelson 2006). For those women who do choose to enter transit jobs and leave because the job was not a good fit, management may be more likely to generalize this to all women, whereas when men leave for the same reason it is not attributed to their gender. Masculine Culture In addition to social factors suggesting that the transit workforce should be predominately men, the fact that the industry has historically had a large proportion of men sometimes leads to organizations having a masculine culture. This culture includes perceived needs to be tough, macho, or aggressive (Watts 2007) and, at times, involves long hours and sexist humor (Kurshitashvili 2018, Pinarowicz et al. 2011). This culture also contributes to several barriers and undesirable conditions for women, including isolation, exclusion, and discrimination at work (UITP and ETF 2014, U.S. Department of Transportation 2011b). Additionally, the masculine culture can lead to a lack of support or recognition for women from their peers or supervisors (Fouad and Singh 2011, Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative 2019, TransitCenter 2018). The barriers that arise from being part of an organization with an overtly masculine culture result in negative conditions and stress for women in these nontraditional occupations, making it more likely for women to leave this line of work (Mansfield et al. 1991). Similarly, women are excluded from elements of the workplace when they may be perceived to not fit with an established masculine culture. For example, women in careers that traditionally have a large proportion of men often report not being heard and recognized in meetings. Furthermore, these women often report that they do not share similarities with individuals who have been successful on the job, as those individuals identified as successful are usually men. Because there are few women in leadership roles, there are fewer posi- tive comparisons for them to be associated with, as compared with men (Gill et al. 2008). This type of exclusion leads women to leave transit careers or severely limits their ability to develop into leadership positions.
Literature Review 9 Safety and Health Concerns Safety concerns, including characteristics of the job and interpersonal safety among co-workers, are barriers to attracting, retaining, and advancing women in transit. Various ele- ments within transit agency jobs may make women feel uncomfortable or unsafe. For example, this may involve interpersonal interactions with individuals who do not believe women are well suited for transit careers and therefore may be seen as unlikely to help or support women in the workplace. Another barrier for women in the transit industry is sexual harassment (U.S. Department of Transportation 2011b, Kurshitashvili 2018). The culture in many transit jobs may make sexual or gender harassment toward women more prevalent. Highly masculine workplace cultures often result in experiences of sexual harassment toward women (Watts 2009). Such incidents of sexual harassment deter women from pursuing, remaining in, and advancing in transit jobs. In addition to sexual harassment, safety and health characteristics of transit jobs pose addi- tional barriers for women. Some transit jobs lack proper facilities for womenâs health, including womenâs restrooms, changing rooms, and space for breastfeeding mothers (Turnbull 2013, UITP and ETF 2014). The lack of these necessary facilities can be detrimental to womenâs health in ways that are not experienced by men (e.g., the potential for breast infections for breastfeed- ing mothers). In certain jobs, lack of proper personal protective equipment for women can also be an issue. âOne-size-fits-allâ equipment is often designed for men while being a poor fit for women that compromises safety and can pose negative consequences to work quality (e.g., slower speed or increased errors) (Greenways 2014). Similarly, safety concerns with public transportation in general may foster stereotypes that transit jobs are unsafe for women. For example, studies have found sexual harassment behavior toward women while on public transportation is pervasive, and fear of harassment on public transportation is experienced by women across different cities, marital statuses, nationalities, and sexual orientations (Loukaitou-Sideris et al. 2009). Perceptions of public transportation as being unsafe for women, or a lack of action or strategy from transit agencies to mitigate these issues, may make women less likely to pursue and stay in transit jobs if they believe the transit environment is unsafe. While safety and health concerns may be particularly pertinent for women, increasing the presence of women in the workforce may actually have a beneficial effect on workplace safety. A recent Pew study that spanned industries found that 43% of respondents found women to be better at creating safe, effective workplaces, compared with only 5% who believed men were better, with the remainder believing men and women were equal in this regard (Parker 2018). Challenges with Accommodating Responsibilities Outside of Work Characteristics of many transit jobs, including rolling shift work and abnormal and unstable hours, make it difficult to accommodate responsibilities outside of work (Kurshitashvili 2018), creating another obstacle for women in the transit industry (UITP and ETF 2014). Similarly, transit agencies often do not accommodate workers for unexpected responsibilities that may come up outside of scheduled work, such as caregiving needs for either children or adults. Women, especially those with families or children, often need to find employment that can be flexible enough to allow them to attend to personal or family needs. The inability for women to meet both work demands and their personal demands while working in transit jobs is seen as a barrier that often keeps women away from transit jobs. In addition to inflexible job characteristics, research has found that organization-specific characteristics can also be an issue. For example, one study found women working in transit
10 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit agencies felt the organization lacked consideration of outside work and family commitments (UITP and ETF 2014). Often times, this lack of consideration is attributed to transit decision makers being predominately men, resulting in needs that may be more common to women not being known or addressed in organizational planning (Transformative Urban Mobility Initia- tive 2019). If transit agencies were able to accommodate either more flexible paid leave options or onsite care for either children or adults, transit workers could more effectively perform both work and caregiving responsibilities because of the additional flexibility and options from an employer. The current nature of transit jobs, as well as a lack of understanding regarding needs for flexibility or policies that support other responsibilities, makes transit careers unappealing or unrealistic for women to pursue. This is a significant barrier when working to attract and retain women in transit careers. Additional Barriers Several other barriers that are not mentioned as frequently should also be recognized. One barrier is the lack of mentorship for women that makes retention and development more chal- lenging (Packard 2003, Pinarowicz et al. 2011). Because women have not typically stayed in transit careers as long as men or have moved into the same types of leadership roles, it can be difficult for more junior women in a transit agency to find mentorship opportunities with more senior transit industry women. Research has shown that mentorship programs decrease turn- over and provide career-related support to women (Payne and Huffman 2005). Without these opportunities, women may not find the support needed to help them grow and advance in transit careers. As in other occupations, there can also be compensation differences between men and women in transit positions, with reports of women making 75% to 80% of menâs earnings (Hanson and Murakami 2010, Turnbull 2013). Although the gap is smaller for unionized jobs, one study focusing on bus and train operators found that, even in a highly unionized environ- ment where work tasks are similar, hourly wages are identical, and tenure dictates promotions, women earned $0.89 for every dollar earned by men (Bolotnyy and Emanuel, 2018). Finally, research shows that although women may try to overcome identified barriers, such as the masculine culture that is present in some transit agencies or the transit industry as a whole, these efforts often do not change or fix the identified barriers (Powell et al. 2009). Women may try to fit into a transit agency that has a masculine culture and act âlike one of the boysâ; accept gender discrimination (i.e., unfavorable treatment based on gender) and sexual harassment (i.e., unwelcome advances or remarks of a sexual nature); try to focus on the advantages of the job over the disadvantages; or adapt to the work culture. Adapting to the work culture could include long hours or other elements in direct opposition to responsibilities or caregiving needs outside of work. However, even with these efforts, the barriers exist and will continue to make it difficult to attract women to transit jobs or limit the retention or advancement of women once they enter these positions. Additionally, when women cannot be compared with other successful women or when they âbootstrapâ themselves to other suc- cessful women, there is delay in advancement. As a result, women will tend to be hired based on their past results rather than on their current potential. Strategies to Attract, Retain, and Advance Women in Transit To address barriers to attracting, retaining, and advancing women in transit, a variety of strate- gies can be used. These strategies have been identified through literature reviews and informa- tion gathered from transit agencies. As the needs and organizational context within each transit agency may differ, various strategies may be more or less useful in varying organizations. Table 2
Literature Review 11 Category Strategy Primary Target Audience Primary Level of Implementation Attracting Women to Transit Jobs Conduct outreach about transit careers in schools. All levels Organization Communicate about transit careers in the community. All levels Organization Improve the image of transit as a career. All levels Industry and Organization Focus on recruiting women. All levels Organization Review current hiring practices for gender-based stereotypes. All levels Organization Outline goals for recruiting women. All levels Organization Retaining Women in Transit Agencies Address culture change. All levels Organization and Individual Improve organizational policies for addressing safety and health concerns (as an employee and transit user). Frontline Organization Provide training and developmental support. All levels Organization Initiate networking opportunities. Frontline and mid-level Industry, Organization, and Individual Improve accommodations for responsibilities outside of work. Frontline Organization Developing or Advancing Provide mentoring opportunities (or networking guidance). Frontline and mid-level Organization (or individual) Women in Transit Careers Outline steps to career development within transit work roles. Frontline and mid-level Organization Consider work assignment equality. Frontline Organization and Individual Overarching Strategies to Support Women in Transit Incorporate imagery/messaging of women in transit. Frontline Industry and Organization Develop internships, apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships focusing on women. Frontline Industry and Organization Establish a transit Womenâs Action Council. All levels Organization Acknowledge womenâs contributions to the transit industry. All levels Organization and Individual Reduce safety and health concerns. Frontline Organization Table 2. Strategies to attract, retain, and develop or advance women in transit.
12 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit presents an overview of the strategies that will likely be the most beneficial for transit agencies as they look to attract, retain, and advance women within their own organizations and within the industry as a whole. While their effectiveness specifically in transit agencies may not yet be established, each of the strategies has been shown to be valuable in some organizational context. Each strategy will be discussed in more detail in the following sections. Attracting Women to Transit Agencies and Jobs This section provides an overview of six main strategies identified through the literature review as key strategies to improve recruitment of transit employees by making the transit industry more appealing and the jobs more accessible to women. Conduct Outreach About Transit Careers in Schools To better attract women to the transit industry, women first must be aware of the career options in this field as they begin to consider their career paths. This means ensuring that women know there are opportunities for them within transit as they first begin thinking about their future jobs. One of the most commonly discussed strategies to accomplish this awareness development is for transit industry representatives to participate in outreach with schools that offer kindergarten through Grade 12, as well as with community colleges and undergraduate university programs (Cronin et al. 2011, Godfrey and Bertini 2019, Hubbard and Hubbard 2009, Ivey et al. 2013, Pinarowicz et al. 2011). This outreach is a form of investment that teaches children and students about transit career options at a young age. Communicate About Transit Careers in the Community Community outreach at neighborhood events would also inform the adult population about various transit careers that are available to women in the community (U.S. Depart- ment of Transportation 2011b). This approach is used to successfully recruit women to other nontraditional careers such as information technology (IT) and engineering (Adya and Kaiser 2005, Sax and Bryant 2005). In addition to communicating information about available career options and positions in transit, it is important to use these communication opportunities to refute common myths about women in transit or the stereotypes that these types of jobs are not for women. For example, the myth that transit jobs are uncommonly hazardous with excessive manual labor can be countered with information about potentially risky more traditionally female occupa- tions that also require manual labor, such as nursing, childcare, or working in the food indus- try (Chicago Women in Trades 2017). This clarification and information will enable women to be confident in their ability to be successful in a transit career and show that women can fit well within transit jobs. Additionally, communication can be used to show women that the skills they possess are valued in transit agencies. The more confidence women have that their skills will make them successful in a transit job, the more likely they are to accept a position (Sherry et al. 2016). Improve the Image of Transit as a Career Another strategy that can help attract women to careers in transit is to improve the image of these careers by demonstrating the benefits of the work and the value women can gain from employment in a transit agency (Dainty et al. 2004). Such personal benefits that could be high- lighted include available benefits (e.g., high quality health care or retirement savings plans), freedom, adventure, and a sense of pride and respect among transit colleagues (Women in Trucking, 2019a). The discussion of benefits to be gained through a career in transit can also emphasize the meaningful contributions to society that transit provides by improving
Literature Review 13 components of the community, enabling public transportation and mobility for all citizens, and reducing traffic congestion and promoting green jobs that benefit the environment (Voie 2016). Highlighting the positive impact that a career can have on others or the environment or focusing on the social components of a job is often attractive to women seeking career opportunities (Agrawal and Dill 2008). Focus on Recruiting Women There are many different ways to tailor or develop recruitment efforts to focus on women and more effectively attract them during the application process. These recruitment efforts include advertising for available transit jobs in locations where they are likely to be seen by a woman applicant, such as grocery or convenience stores, unemployment offices, or internet job search engines. Advertising in locations where they are likely to be seen by women can increase the visibility of these jobs to women, which will in turn, likely increase the number of women who apply to open positions because of the increased awareness (Cronin et al. 2011). Jobs must be posted in locations where women with diverse backgrounds can access them, and these job announcements should also be free from biases that could eliminate desirable women appli- cants from the applicant pool (Medina 2019). An example of these biases could be images that only portray men or language that indicates women may not be well accepted in the workplace. To attract younger women to the applicant pool, advertising on social media to promote a posi- tive image of the industry and available jobs can be utilized, with a specific emphasis on sites or pages that women are more likely to browse (Hanson and Murakami 2010). Additionally, hosting career days to advertise and provide information for available positions is beneficial, particularly when they specifically target women or are in conjunction with events that women will be attending (Hubbard and Hubbard 2009). Review Current Hiring Practices for Stereotypes When revamping efforts to attract more women to the field, one recruitment strategy is to review current recruitment and selection materials to ensure they are not enabling stereotypes. These stereotypes could include using masculine pronouns and names in advertisements or other recruitment materials or requesting unnecessary qualifications that may discourage women from applying, such as including weight requirements on an application (Chicago Women in Trades 2017, TransitCenter 2018). By ensuring that recruitment materials and language do not exclude women and that application materials do not inadvertently discrimi- nate against women, the number of women who apply to and ultimately end up in transit careers can increase by two mechanisms. First, when application materials include women and do not focus solely on masculine examples or pronouns, it will be easier for women to see themselves in transit jobs, and therefore more women will be likely to apply. Second, by ensuring that hiring practices (e.g., applications or interview procedures) do not discrimi- nate against women, not only will women be qualified and progress through the application process but they will also have a positive view of the organization. This positive view will result from the fair hiring procedures, which will make it more likely for women to pursue employment in transit and accept job offers. Outline Goals for Recruiting Women To drive and monitor an increase in womenâs representation within transit agencies, setting goals with specific targets for women applicants and hires is necessary. It would also be ben- eficial to monitor the number of women who remain in transit jobs for a set amount of time (Chicago Women in Trades, 2017). Difficulty in meeting these goals would signal the need for new or revised recruitment methods to better attract qualified women to transit jobs. Setting goals with specific recruitment targets for women applicants can help to ensure an appropriate
14 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit focus on attracting diverse candidates. Additionally, transit agencies can compare current rates of women hires and retention with other, similar transit agencies or historical internal hiring rates for women (Dainty et al. 2004). Tracking this information allows the organization to assess their progression and evaluate whether they are outperforming or underperforming relative to similar transit agencies or their own internal diversity goals. Retaining Women in Transit Agencies This section offers strategies to help keep women in transit careers once they have entered the industry. Each of these strategies describes ways to create a work environment that will be supportive of women and meets their employment needs. Address Culture Change Transit organizations can implement several strategies to change the masculine culture in a transit agency and create a workplace welcoming to all employees. The first strategy is to make it clear at the institutional level that the transit agency values a diverse workforce (Chesler and Chesler 2002). A formal statement noting the organizationâs commitment to diversity clearly conveys this message. Diversity statements can include a focus on employee demo- graphics within the organization (e.g., increasing the numbers of women or minorities) and cultural vitality (e.g., the importance of incorporating various cultures and ideas within the organization) through awareness, inclusion, and diversity programming to show the value of having diverse employees (Wilson et al. 2012). Leadership support and clear communication regarding the value of diversity, including diversity in terms of including women in the work- force, is also crucial in inspiring employees to value each otherâs contributions; this will help to prevent masculine culture, which can be a barrier to womenâs success in the organization (Dainty et al. 2004, Chicago Women in Trades 2017). Identifying and focusing on the removal of behaviors that undermine women, their capabilities, or their value to the organization is important to ensure that a transit agency is able create a supportive network for all employees (Fouad and Singh 2011). Focusing on these elements to address culture change helps to create a healthy and respectful work environment, which then allows women recognition within the industry, which then encourages women to stay involved in transit careers (U.S. Department of Transportation 2011a). Beyond support for change from leadership, a series of formal trainings to educate employees on the benefits of embracing diversity and respect for all individuals is an effective way to encourage culture change within a transit agency. Diversity and inclusion training programs would educate employees on the organizational benefits of a diverse workforce, on the biases, and on how to respect each otherâs contributions (U.S. Department of Transportation 2011b, Gill et al. 2008). About 52% of transportation organizations currently have some form of diversity training program (Batac et al. 2012). Additionally, sexual harassment and gender discrimination training would help address challenges for women associated with a workplace culture that does not value or support them enough as necessary for success. When organiza- tions have a highly masculine culture, there may be gender discrimination or sexual harassment occurring that employees do not realize is a problem. Offering this type of training and raising awareness of what constitutes gender discrimination and what constitutes sexual harassment and what to do about either one can create a culture in which women are more likely to be able to be successful employees (French and Strachan 2009). Finally, implementing other initiatives that show that womenâs concerns are heard can help to create positive culture change. For example, transit agencies may implement a âsafe travelâ program to identify hazards for women using public transportation and transit safety considerations show an organizationâs commitment to a safe environment for women
Literature Review 15 (Loukaitou-Sideris et al. 2009). Programs such as this, while not geared directly at the employee experience in the workplace, help to show that a transit agency has a culture that supports women and will work to ensure their needs are met. Provide Training and Developmental Support To support womenâs self-efficacy in transit fields as well as to provide opportunities to learn and be challenged, another strategy having an impact to consider in transit agencies is to pro- mote training programs (Fouad and Singh 2011). Providing employees, particularly women who may be interested in growth but less confident in their abilities to succeed in transit jobs, with training and development opportunities is one useful way to focus on retaining and devel- oping employees. Particularly in the first 6 months, continual training, support, check-ins, and coaching demonstrate commitment to womenâs development to help them succeed (Women in Trucking 2019a). Such training can extend beyond technical skills to develop womenâs lead- ership abilities. Organizations can even collaborate with associations such as the Womenâs Leadership Institute to provide developmental opportunities (Sneider 2012). Continuous development gives women greater satisfaction in the work, provides motivation from the chal- lenge, and allows for more advancement opportunities, all of which give women more reason to continue working in transit (Buse et al. 2013, Sullivan and Mainiero 2008). Initiate Networking Opportunities Until there is a greater presence of women employed in transit agencies, providing specialized networking opportunities for women can be valuable. Strong networks provide women with technical and psychosocial support, promote career growth, and help to retain and advance women in organizations (Chanland and Murphy 2018). Promoting networking opportunities helps women feel less discouraged by the lack of other women in the industry and can positively affect women who have newly entered the industry by providing both pro- fessional and social support. Promoting networking opportunities also allows for a system of support from peers or other employees who may be experiencing similar issues related to the lack of support for women in a transit agency. Organizations can host company-wide network- ing events to connect women across different areas. They can also encourage women to join social media groups comprising women in various areas of transit, women in other transit agencies across the country, or even women in other transportation modes or organizations, because these women in various roles may have similar experiences and be able to offer guidance and advice to women in transit (Women in Trucking 2019a). Additionally, transit agencies can promote and collaborate with organizations such as Womenâs Transportation, an international organization dedicated to advancing women in transit occupations (Womenâs Transportation Seminar 2011), or Women in Trucking (2019b), which also provides women with networking connections. Using established networking opportunities such as these can be helpful because extensive resources are not needed to establish a new networking program or event. Existing plans from Womenâs Transportation Seminar or another organization can be used to support women without a large investment or lengthy development process. Improve Accommodations for Responsibilities Outside of Work Research examining barriers for women in the transit industry identifies challenges meeting responsibilities outside of work as a barrier for retaining women employees (e.g., UITP and ETF 2014). To address this issue, transit agencies can make a conscious effort to meet both work and personal (e.g., childcare or eldercare) needs of employees. Transit agencies can provide more flexible caregiving and leave policies (e.g., access to emergency child care vouchers), provide flexible work schedules, provide part-time opportunities, and promote an overall culture of workâlife balance by encouraging employees to take advantage of workâlife balance initiatives
16 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit (Cronin et al. 2011, Hanson and Murakami 2010, Sneider 2012). Providing benefits such as these, and encouraging employees to use them, will show that the transit agency is working to help women or other employees with family needs be successful at work while they are still able to meet the needs of their home life. Additional Retention Strategies Although mentioned less frequently, there are several additional strategies to encourage women to remain in transit careers. The strategies include implementing wellness programs to address working long hours or time away from home (Women in Trucking 2019a); building a supportive, respectful, and appreciative culture at work; adopting behaviors that go above and beyond to make others more comfortable; and providing bonuses for years of service (Cronin et al. 2011). Transit agencies can also show investment in their employees by assisting with external barriers, such as providing access to childcare or legal services and working to fix any gaps in pay between men and women, all of which can contribute to retaining women within the field (Florentine 2014). Developing Women Through Transit Careers Not only is it valuable to bring women into transit careers and retain them within transit agencies but it is also important to ensure that once women are in these careers they are afforded development and advancement opportunities. This section provides an overview of key strategies that are beneficial when focusing on the development of women. Provide Mentoring Opportunities As one source of developmental opportunities for women, transit agencies can implement mentoring programs for newly hired and existing women employees. Only 31% of transit organizations report having a mentorship program, meaning there is extensive room for improve- ment in this area and development of new mentoring programs (Batac et al. 2012). Mentors should have guidance on how to listen, counsel, and coach. For each mentoring relation- ship, specific objectives should be defined at the outset. Many researchers studying womenâs barriers in the transit industry recommend mentoring programs as a mechanism to dissolve, or at least reduce, the barriers previously described that can push women out of transit careers. Mentoring programs can enhance womenâs workplace success, even if mentors are men (TransitCenter 2018, Godfrey and Bertini 2019). Furthermore, mentoring programs have been shown to be related to many benefits for their participants, including career advance- ment, increased job performance, increased skill acquisition, and increased enthusiasm for continuing in the job and developing a career in transit (Files et al. 2008). In cases in which a large-scale formal mentoring program may not be feasible, transit agencies can provide guid- ance on how to network more effectively to help women experience some of these benefits on a more individual, informal basis. Outline Steps to Promotion To further focus on advancing womenâs careers, transit agencies should clearly communi- cate and outline the steps needed to receive a promotion. Research indicates transit agencies could improve their communication on advancement steps and opportunities, as more than half of surveyed women transit employees reported not knowing about development oppor- tunities (Cronin et al. 2011). This lack of information can affect not only whether employees successfully advance but also whether they continue to pursue a career in the transit industry. If employees are unaware that they could be promoted from their current role, they may seek opportunities elsewhere.
Literature Review 17 One method for clearly communicating steps to promotion is having employees set goals with their supervisors (Godfrey and Bertini 2019). Goal setting will not only hold employees accountable and motivate them but, if set with a supervisor, can demonstrate which actions employees must complete in order to advance. By clearly outlining steps to promotion, transit agencies can ensure women employees will know which actions are requirements for promotion within their organization and what they need to do to reach those requirements. Supervisors should also engage in direct conversations about promotional opportunities, explicitly express- ing to women employees when they are qualified to apply and asking about their interest rather than assuming (Mattis 2005). It is also important for supervisors to keep in mind that, if some- one declines a promotional opportunity at one point in time, that does not mean circumstances will not change in the future and supervisors could reopen the discussion again periodically. Additionally, when outlining the steps to promotion, transit agencies can provide employees with the resources that are available to support working toward a promotion. By ensuring that women employees also receive these messages and communications, the likelihood that women successfully advance their careers within their transit agency improves (Jones and Palmer 2011). Additionally, the improved transparency in criteria can help make it noticeable when manager bias may be an issue. Consider Work Assignment Equality When focusing on opportunities to help women develop and advance, transit agencies should be mindful about work assignments, which affect many facets of the employee experience, such as health, satisfaction, and development. For example, the work assignments employees receive can affect their promotional opportunities, because work assignments can influence employeesâ skills, experiences, and knowledge (Voie 2016). In other words, some types of work assignmentsâsuch as development or stretch opportunities or assignments in which employees fill acting leadership rolesâcan set employees up well for future advancement. Other types of assignments, however, such as administrative or more menial tasks do not help to prepare an employee for advance- ment. When determining if there is a disparity between the number of men and women who are promoted, transit agencies should evaluate whether men and women are often receiving different work assignments, and if these work assignments affect promotional opportunities. Being mind- ful about this process can help transit organizations identify potential gender disparities or bias and ensure opportunities are equally available to women. Additional Development Strategies There are additional development strategies that may be relevant for some transit agencies. One recommendation is to have transit agencies work with associations that provide devel- opment opportunities for women, such as the Womenâs Leadership Institute (Sneider 2012). Collaborating with women-promoting institutions can help women transit employees develop themselves and feel supported by their organization, ultimately encouraging women employees to stay and advance their careers within the transit industry. Another strategy is supporting women-owned businesses in transit (Hanson and Murakami 2010). In particular, the industry could help provide contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses. This would make it easier for women to start and maintain organizations that work with or provide support to transit agencies, which would ultimately increase the number of women in the industry and help women play an integral role in transit overall. Overarching Strategies to Support Women in Transit To add to the strategies to attract, retain, and develop or advance women in transit already discussed, there are additional strategies that apply more generally across these three areas.
18 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit The strategies presented in this section can be applied broadly or they can be used in multiple ways to support women in transit. Incorporate Imagery of Women in Transit There are many materials used to advertise new initiatives in transit. For example, a print ad may be developed to show riders a new bus route or job opportunities may be advertised in a local transit-specific publication. Alternatively, posters may be created for the office to share with employees about a new activity for transit agency employees. When using imagery to promote or advertise the transit agency or its programs, whether it be for the public or for employment purposes, showing women in transit positions sends the message that opportu- nities in these fields are available to women. Such advertisement campaigns can be specifi- cally directed toward women or deployed to the public (U.S. Department of Transportation 2011b). In whichever way a message is communicated, the act of including women in images that display their ability to work in transit jobs enables them to see themselves working and advancing in the transit environment. Similarly, including women on hiring panels is benefi- cial to women job candidates. Develop Internships, Apprenticeships, and Pre-apprenticeships Initiatives from transportation departments to place young women in transit-related intern- ships is a strategy demonstrated by the U.S. Department of Transportationâs Women & Girls in Transportation Initiative (U.S. Department of Transportation 2018). It contributes to attracting, retaining, and advancing women in several ways. Internships relate to increased participation of women in transportation and educate them on existing opportunities within the industry, as well as in transportation-related science, technology, engineering, and math- ematics (STEM) fields. Internships also provide girls and women with the technical skills necessary to do well in positions and prepare them to become leaders. Additionally, internships create a partnership with transit agencies and create a succession line of potentially interested women employees to fill future job openings (U.S. Department of Transportation 2018). Apprenticeship programs are also an important consideration for actively recruiting women in the pipeline of transit careers. For example, King County Metro has a bus mechanic appren- ticeship, as well as a recently launched light rail electrical worker apprenticeship and a build- ing operating engineer apprenticeship, and the agency recognizes the importance of women in such programs (TransitCenter 2019). To increase participation of women in apprenticeships, womenâs committees have been successfully positioned to recruit and retain women apprentices in the construction industry (Shaw and Hegewisch 2017). In addition to standard apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeship programs are another strategy that can help increase the presence of women. For example, a national pre-apprenticeship program that is exclusively for women was developed for the ironworking industry. Women are nominated through local unions and apprenticeship programs from across the country. This type of program helps attract women to the industry, allows them to develop their skills in a comfortable environment, and can increase retention by exposing them to on-the-job experience prior to their formal entry into the field (Hegewisch 2017). Establish a Womenâs Action Council Transit agencies can develop a council or committee specifically dedicated to examining barriers and solutions related to organizational needs to recruit, retain, and advance women in their workforce (TransitCenter 2018). A good way to establish a council or committee such as this is to identify employees from various departments and organizational levels to form the group. Then the council works to identify current challenges and solutions specific to
Literature Review 19 issues women in their workforce are experiencing. These councils show the organizationâs commitment to supporting women employees and practically address issues of why women may not be applying or staying in transit positions. Additionally, by forming a council to focus on womenâs needs within the transit agency, the agency will have employees who are committed to focusing on these issues for women and can be champions for new efforts or strategies that are deployed into the workplace. The council should establish a close rela- tionship with the union and engage in frequent communication to ensure the council has representation within union negotiations. Acknowledge Womenâs Contributions to the Transit Industry Visibility of women in the transit industry is essential to attracting women and making them feel as if they belong, which is an important element that influences their decision to stay in this line of work. However, it is also necessary to demonstrate the contributions women make to advance the field (Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative 2019). Showing the successes of women in transit, and specifically in oneâs own transit agency, contributes to changing percep- tions about the field and raising awareness, which then relates to behavioral change. Specifically, this behavioral change would be more women choosing to enter and stay in transit careers. In addition to recognizing accomplishments in the organization, these contributions can be adver- tised more publicly through media outlets such as the Remarkable Women in Transport magazine (Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative 2019). Similarly, transit agencies should be mindful of highlighting the contributions of women employees in internal communications, such as employee spotlights in newsletters and staff meetings. Explicitly advertising and acknowledging the contributions of women to the transit field allows women to see their opportunities to join and make meaningful advancements to transit. Reduce Safety and Health Concerns Providing a safer, healthier workplace benefits all employees and can help with attracting and retaining women in the workforce. Actions that can help include ensuring access to sanitary facilities for restroom use and breastfeeding needs, providing safety equipment that fits women properly, collaborating with unions on health and safety issues and generally cultivating an environment that emphasizes safety (Greenways 2014).