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Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit (2020)

Chapter:Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 3 - Transit Agency Survey Results." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25741.
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20 To gather additional information related to the current representation of women in transit, to barriers experienced by women in the industry, along with example strategies that have been used to recruit, retain, and develop and advance women specifically within transit, a survey was distributed to transit agencies across the country. This chapter describes the survey and the results. Survey Methodology and Participants The survey for this project was developed to gather information from transit agencies about their current experiences and challenges related to attracting, retaining, and advancing women in transit. Specifically, the survey included questions about • Diversity culture within the transit agency; • Current strategies to attract, retain, and develop/advance women; • Challenges and barriers experienced; and • Transit agency demographic information, including the current representation of women in the organization. The survey was developed online and distributed via e-mail. The e-mail included a link for participants to access the survey. The distribution list included the American Public Transporta- tion Association’s Workforce Development Committee as well as other transit agency contacts. Ninety-four participants responded to the survey. However, because survey participants were not required to list their transit agency to maintain confidentiality (if desired), the exact number of transit agencies responding is not known. Based on those participants who did provide their transit agency name, however, there are more than 60 unique transit agencies represented and seven additional organizations. The majority of survey participants represented transit agencies (90.4%). The remainder of participants represented other organizations involved with the transit industry such as the American Public Transportation Association, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) educational centers (e.g., at a university), or private consulting firms that work with transit agencies. Survey participants represented organizations across the country. Figure 1 provides an overview of the number and percentage of survey participants, by their regional location within the United States. Current Representation of Women in Transit Transit agencies that completed the survey were asked to provide the percentage of women employed in the transit agency as a whole, as well as the percentage by various job types across C H A P T E R 3 Transit Agency Survey Results

Transit Agency Survey Results 21 the organization. Overall, survey participants reported that 35% of their current employees are women, although this portion of the survey had a low response because many participants may not have had this information readily available. When examining specific types of jobs within transit agencies, as expected, the percentage of women varies based on the jobs under consideration. For example, based on the survey results, the highest percentage of women are employed in general administrative functions (62%; see Table 3). Readers can contrast this with jobs in vehicle maintenance, in which an average of less than 2% of the employees are women. Across transit agencies, there is low representation of women in maintenance jobs, both for vehicle and nonvehicle maintenance. Table 3 provides full results regarding the average percentage of women in various transit agency by job types. While the number of responses to these questions was low, this infor- mation is still valuable to show general trends regarding the representation of women in different areas of transit agencies. Transit agencies completing the survey were also asked to report on how the representa- tion of women in their workforce has changed in the past 5 years and 10 years. Approximately three-quarters of responding transit agencies indicated that in the past 10 years, the percentage of women in their workforce has increased, while a few agencies indicated there was no sig- nificant change and only one participant noted a concerning trend. Many transit agencies also indicated an increase in women employed by their agencies within the past 5 years; however, in the past 5 years there appears to have been specific growth in the number of women who are in leadership and management positions. While these results should be interpreted with caution as they may come from individual respondents’ perceptions rather than from HR databases, there is evidence that the responding transit agencies feel they are improving not only in terms of attracting women but also in that the respondents feel their agencies are finding ways to advance women within the organizational hierarchy. Note: Location was not available for 2 participants. Figure 1. Survey participants, by U.S. region.

22 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit Current Transit Agency Barriers to Recruiting, Retaining, and Developing/Advancing Women Next, survey participants were asked to list the greatest barriers they see for their transit agen- cies in terms of attracting women to the organization, keeping women in the organization, and developing and advancing women in the organization. Many of the barriers described by survey participants aligned directly with those barriers identified in the literature review. Table 4 pro- vides themes regarding the common barriers experienced by transit agencies. As previously described, one of the major barriers identified for attracting, retaining, and developing and advancing women involved challenging schedules and other factors that can make it difficult to meet responsibilities outside of work. Aligned with this theme, survey par- ticipants indicated that inflexible work schedules that do not support responsibilities outside of work are a barrier to attracting women to transit agencies and that inflexible work schedules and child-leave policies as well as a lack of desired benefits such as maternity leave are seen as barriers that keep women from staying in transit careers. Another common theme in terms of barriers experienced for women in transit is that there is an overly masculine culture or a culture that does not support women that is prevalent in the transit agency. Transit agencies identified this as a barrier for attracting, retaining, and advanc- ing women within their agencies. One way to make sure that transit agencies can improve their culture and create an environment in which women will want to work is to focus on diversity at all organizational levels. When organizations have a culture or environment in place to create emphasis on including women and supporting diversity overall, they are more likely to actually focus on these types of initiatives. In the survey, various elements that are key to creating an organizational culture that supports not only women specifically but also diversity in general were identified. Survey participants were asked if they • Have a staff member responsible for overseeing diversity efforts. • Provide diversity training. • Formally state a commitment to diversity. • Have leadership that encourages or supports diversity. While each of these elements is not specific to women in the transit agency, they are important aspects of ensuring that the organization is prepared to focus on and implement strong efforts that will support diverse, nontraditional transit employees, including women. Without these diversity-focused elements in place, strategies focusing on improving recruitment, retention, or development and advancement of women are less likely to be successful (Gilbert and Ivancevich 2000). This means that it is positive when transit agencies already have these elements in place. Job Type Average Percentage of Women (%) Range for Percentage of Women (%) Overall agency 35 17–65 Vehicle maintenance 2 0–10 Nonvehicle maintenance 7 0–25 Vehicle operations 28 1–52 Mid-level management 33 1–98 Senior management 32 0–100 General administrative functions 62 10–100 Note: N = 9–15. Table 3. Survey results regarding representation of women in various transit job types.

Transit Agency Survey Results 23 Barriers to Attracting Women to the Organization Lack of women in visible management roles, limiting ability to see advancement opportunities Masculine culture in some areas (e.g., operations) Traditional perceptions of gender roles (e.g., male versus female jobs) Culture that does not incorporate or support women Fear of job requirements (e.g., operating a bus) Inflexible work schedules that can be challenging for responsibilities outside of work Ways in which job descriptions are written Job testing that favors physical strength Barriers to Retaining Women in the Organization Senior leadership positions predominately filled by men Culture that does not incorporate women Lack of advancement opportunities (e.g., flat organizational structure with minimal opportunities, bias in providing opportunities to men, and siloed opportunities that do not allow learning skills in new job areas) Lack of support for women (e.g., leadership does not encourage or mentor women and perception that women are not valued or respected) Lack of desired benefits (e.g., maternity leave and access to childcare) Inflexible schedules and child leave policies Safety concerns Pay gap Barriers to Developing or Advancing Women in the Organization Lack of awareness of qualification process for promotions Traditional ideas about women’s roles in the workplace Lack of advancement opportunities available combined with biased selection process Masculine culture (e.g., perception that women are not as committed to the job, especially mothers; women must work longer and harder to prove themselves; women are judged for being assertive; and women are not respected) Women are less likely to apply for promotional opportunities because they are more critical in applying criteria (i.e., women refrain from applying if they cannot fully meet every requirement in contrast to men who will apply anyway) Lack of support from leadership for women to advance Women are less likely to be provided with resources to help them (e.g., • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • relationship with a mentor and interview coaching) Table 4. Common barriers experienced by transit agencies related to women in the workforce. A majority of the survey respondents indicated that each of these diversity-focused elements occurs within their transit agencies. Overall, 93% of the survey respondents indicated that their leadership encourages or supports diversity. This is a strong finding, because leadership sup- port is often the basis for determining the types of strategies to implement to support women and these strategies will only be successful with the leaders’ support (Huber and Maddell 2018). Additionally, 85% of the survey respondents indicated that they have a staff member responsible for overseeing diversity efforts, and 75% formally state a commitment to diversity and diversity training. Overall results for the percentage of transit agencies who indicated having each of these elements in their organizations are provided in Figure 2. Diversity Initiatives Currently in Place at Transit Agencies Transit agencies were also asked to identify the types of diversity strategies or initiatives that they currently have in place in terms of recruiting, increasing employee retention, and employee training and development. Figure 3 presents the survey results for these questions. Overall, the greatest percentage of transit agencies have diversity initiatives in place for recruiting employees

24 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit 84.9% 75.0% 75.3% 93.2% 15.1% 25.0% 24.7% 6.8% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Staff member responsible for overseeing diversity efforts Diversity training for employees Stated commitment to diversity Leadership who encourages or supports diversity Yes No Figure 2. Elements of transit agency focused on diversity (N = 70–73). 66.7% 53.5% 44.3% 33.3% 46.5% 55.7% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Diversity initiatives in place for recruiting Diversity initiatives in place for training and development Diversity initiatives in place with the goal of increasing employee retention Yes No Figure 3. Types of diversity strategies in place at transit agencies surveyed (N = 70–72). (67% of respondents; see Figure 3). This finding is not surprising, because diversity efforts and results in recruiting are often documented for Equal Employment Opportunity reporting and requirements. Respondents were least likely to indicate that they utilize diversity initiatives that focus on retaining employees; only 44% of survey respondents indicated that they have diversity initiatives in place for increasing employee retention. As such, this points to an area in which transit agencies may want to focus future diversity- or women-focused efforts. Because there are fewer retention-specific initiatives used, identifying and implementing strategies to retain women may have a large payoff for these agencies. Related to these questions about diversity initiatives overall, survey respondents were also asked to identify the types of strategies they currently have in place that focus on accom- plishing the goals of attracting, retaining, and advancing women within their organizations.

Transit Agency Survey Results 25 Figure 4 provides a summary of these responses. Participants who responded that their agen- cies implement these strategy types were then asked to provide qualitative responses with specific information about these strategies. This information then identified potential partici- pants for the case examples presented in Chapter 4. Transit agencies that completed the survey and indicated they currently have strategies in place to attract, retain, or advance women were considered for case study interviews. When selecting participants for case study interviews, the research team determined who was willing to participate in an interview and looked to include agencies of varying sizes across the United States that use varying types of strategies that focus on women. Even when transit agencies do utilize strategies to recruit, retain, or advance women, many times the outcomes (i.e., the impact of the strategies) are not measured. However, some of the survey respondents did identify outcomes associated with the various strategies they described. Whether based on organizational metrics or their perceptions, these outcomes begin to show how using the strategies included in this synthesis report can benefit transit agencies. Table 5 presents examples of the strategies described by survey participants, along with their associated outcomes. 36% 58% 5% 47% 36% 6% 53% 45% 9% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Targeted Recruiting (i.e., focus recruiting efforts on women) Programs Designed to Hire Women (e.g., use programs that help prepare women for jobs, such as apprenticeships) Other Organizational Culture Efforts (e.g., make the overall culture more supportive of women) Job-Related Efforts (e.g., make changes to specific jobs themselves to help retain women) Other Training and Development (i.e., job-related skills) Building Professional Capacity (i.e., building broader knowledge and capabilities) Other D ev el op A tt ra ct Re ta in Figure 4. Types of strategies in place to support women at transit agencies surveyed (N = 72).

26 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit Category Strategy Description Outcomes Experienced Recruiting Women: Focus on recruiting women Developed a focused outreach strategy to attract women, including advertising on specific sites that focus on women in transportation. The transit agency has experienced an increase of women at the professional, management, and executive level positions. Partnered with women’s professional and trade organizations such as Women in Trades to promote hiring opportunities and participate in outreach events. There is better visibility of the transit agency as a place for women to develop a career. Utilized a variety of women, including those of all ages and demographics, in both printed and digital recruitment pieces. Nearly half of the transit agency’s transit operator workforce consists of women. Recruiting Women: Improve the image of transit as a career for women Focused on hiring women and increasing the number of employees who are women, which encourages women to apply because they can see themselves in the positions. The transit agency hopes that this encourages other women to believe they can do the jobs in transit and in turn apply for open positions. Provided onsite childcare centers for employees, with discounted pricing and showed this during recruitment to highlight the benefits for women. The transit agency has been able to attract women who need childcare services and see this as a great benefit. Recruiting Women: Review hiring practices and related materials Updated job specifications to ensure that they accurately reflected the duties needed and eliminated any barriers to entry. Because of one updated job specification, the transit agency was able to increase hiring of women by 30% for that position. Conducted a job analysis and review of job requirements, descriptions, and testing to be sure they did not discriminate. The transit agency developed gender-neutral job titles and changed testing requirements to get more women applicants and hires. Retaining Women: Address culture change and improve organizational policies Established a women’s employee empowerment group that develops input on changes to policies, practices, and professional development to help retain women. There has been significant interest in the group, meetings have been well attended, and the input from the group is helping to improve the organizational culture. Retaining Women: Provide training and development support Targeted training and development opportunities to women by supporting women in specific internal and external training opportunities, some specific to women (such as the Women’s Transportation Seminar) and others more general (such as the American Public Transportation Association). There is a greater share of women participating in professional development and extending their tenure with the transit agency. Retaining Women: Initiate networking opportunities Created a women in leadership forum, which is a group specifically for women in the organization to network with one another and build skills. The forum hosts speakers on a variety of topics and has sessions on resume writing and other helpful topics. There is high engagement in this group, specifically from frontline and mid-level staff. Many participants gain exposure to female executives within the transit agency; the exposure and, in some case, career coaching, is seen as a benefit to female employees. Table 5. Recruitment, retention, and advancement strategies used by transit agencies.

Transit Agency Survey Results 27 Category Strategy Description Outcomes Experienced Retaining Women: Improve accommodations for responsibilities outside of work Offered flexible work hours, including telework, a compressed workweek (i.e., working four 10-hour days), and varied start and end times for the workday. The transit agency has experienced success with the program, with employees participating in the telework program more so than the compressed workweek. The program assists women who need support in balancing work and their home lives. Offered work hour flexibility so that administrative professionals could flex their time as needed to take care of family needs. The transit agency sees a better work–life balance for the women working in their organization. Advancing Women: Provide mentoring and networking opportunities Focused on advancing women through providing training, development, and mentorship opportunities to women in the transit agency. This effort has been successful thus far. More women are in decision-making and policy- making positions now than in the history of the organization. Developed a women’s leadership coaching program to provide resources and tools to women, create opportunities for mentorship, and prepare women for leadership roles. The transit agency completed their first cohort to include 14 women who participated in the 6- month program that included a speaker series, coaching, mentoring, readings, self- assessments, capstone project, and a meeting with the agency director. Several women received promotions, applied for jobs, sat at interview tables, and were awarded quality step increases. These women are more visible and serving in project lead roles. Conducted a workshop with a panel discussion comprising women in the organization. The workshop was designed to inform women about opportunities, strategies, and activities available to assist in building relationships and supporting career advancement. The workshop was well received. There have been requests for additional workshops to be conducted. Advancing Women: Outline steps to career development Identified high potentials within the agency who have the necessary skills and abilities for a job but who may not have the needed experience. The employees identified as high potentials began receiving stretch assignments that will get them the experience they need to compete for promotions or other new jobs in the future. Women who identified as high potentials were provided the opportunity to participate in cross- functional teams and highly visible projects to gain experience. Most of the women who were given this experience transitioned to different positions within the agency, either moving upward or laterally. Provided women’s leadership training to women, designed to help them advance into leadership positions. Women have been able to learn what is needed to advance into leadership, as well as barriers that might exist. Developed a career pathways program that focuses on developing and cultivating employees within the transit agency. To date, more than 300 employees have participated in the program, and 50% of the applicants accepted into the program are women. Table 5. (Continued).

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Women have traditionally been underrepresented within the transit workforce. However, the percentage of women within transit agencies appears to be increasing, and many transit agencies report that the percentage of women advancing into management and leadership positions has also been increasing over the past 5 years.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's TCRP Synthesis 147: Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit explores the strategies that have been deployed in transit and other related industries in order to attract, retain, and advance women in a variety of roles.

A critical first step to ensure success in these areas is to remove barriers to entry and address challenges women face once employed.

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