National Academies Press: OpenBook

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

Chapter:Chapter 5 - Conclusions

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Page 43
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." 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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Page43
Page 44
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." 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.
×
Page44
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 5 - Conclusions." 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.
×
Page45

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43 This synthesis report shows that there are numerous and varied efforts taking place within the transit industry to attract, retain, and develop/advance women within transit careers. Many transit agencies are already implementing strategies that support women in these ways. While not all transit agencies have strategies in place to accomplish all three listed objectives (i.e., recruiting, retaining, and developing/advancing women), many transit agencies have started to select strategies that meet their own needs or internal strategic goals related to diversity, and also select strategies that specifically increase the representation of women in the workforce. The portfolio of strategies used varies by transit agency, but many organiza- tions have implemented similar strategies. Additionally, transit agencies that participated in this study indicated they are focusing on women in the workforce and working to increase the representation of women throughout their organizations. For example, as anecdotally described by participants, the percentage of women within transit agencies appears to be increasing, and many of the responding transit agencies reported that the percentage of women advancing into management and leadership positions has also been increasing over the past 5 years. Of note, however, is that in most cases the exact number or percentage of women within a transit agency was not readily available. Additionally, how the number or percentage of women within a transit agency has changed was not readily available. Being more transparent or making these numbers more accessible could help to demonstrate that the challenge described in this report is worth addressing (i.e., there is a small representation of women that needs to be increased). Additionally, documenting the increases in the number of women applicants and employees can help to show the effectiveness of implemented strategies. As more transit agencies begin to implement the types of strategies described in this synthesis report, it is likely that a trend of increasing numbers of women in the transit industry will occur. If women are becoming more likely to enter into transit careers and ultimately stay with their employer as they move up the ranks within the organization, the overall number of women in the industry will continue to increase. Overall, results of the survey align well with the literature review findings in that they identify similar barriers and strategies related to recruiting, retaining, and developing/advancing women. Additionally, the survey results show promising information in that transit agencies are focusing on diversity initiatives. However, they indicate some room for improvement as not all transit agencies surveyed currently have strategies in place to focus on diversity, or attracting, retaining, or developing women specifically. C H A P T E R 5 Conclusions

44 Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit Overcoming Barriers to Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Women in Transit Findings from both the literature review and the survey conducted with transit agencies identi- fied similar barriers that affect transit agencies as they try to attract, retain, and develop and advance women within their workforce. The literature review findings identified five major categories of barriers that exist for transit agencies. The survey results then identified smaller, more defined themes related to the barriers or challenges experienced. Most of the barriers identified by survey respondents fit within the barriers identified in the literature review. As such, it is likely that this is a comprehensive list of barriers experienced across transit agencies. Table 6 provides examples of this alignment between barrier findings from the literature review and the survey responses. Current Strategies and Practices for Transit Agencies to Use This synthesis report lays out various strategies that transit agencies can use to recruit, retain, and develop and advance women in their workforces. The strategies that will be best suited for each individual transit agency will vary based on the current organizational context as well as Lack of Job Opportunity Outreach Recruiting Women Lack of women in visible management roles, limiting ability to see potential Retaining Women Senior leadership positions predominately filled by men Developing Women Lack of awareness of qualification process for promotions Social Factors Recruiting Women Traditional perceptions of gender roles (e.g., male versus female jobs) Retaining Women Lack of support for women and Lack of development programs to enhance women’s leadership skills Developing Women Traditional ideas about women’s roles in the workplace and Lack of advancement opportunities (e.g., flat organizational structure) Culture (Masculine) Recruiting Women Masculine culture in some areas (e.g., operations) and A culture that does not incorporate or support women Retaining Women A culture that does not incorporate women Developing Women Masculine culture that has perception that women are not as committed to the job Safety Concerns Recruiting Women Fear of job requirements (e.g., operating a bus) Inflexibility Regarding Accommodating Personal Responsibilities Recruiting Women Inflexible work schedules that do not support responsibilities outside of work Retaining Women Lack of desired benefits (e.g., maternity leave and access to childcare) and Inflexible schedules and child leave policies Developing Women Lack of desire to move into supervisory or management positions Major Barriers Identified in the Literature Review Examples of Associated Themes Reported on the Survey as Barriers Experienced by Transit Agencies Table 6. Alignment of literature review and survey findings regarding major barriers for women.

Conclusions 45 on the strategic needs and goals of the transit agency. When working to implement new strate- gies that focus on women in the workforce, it is key to have leadership buy in and a culture that is committed to successful implementation of these strategies. As transit agencies begin to put more emphasis on increasing not only the representation of women in their workforce but also supporting the career advancement of these women, ensuring there is a culture that supports women and diversity overall will be an essential element for successful strategy implementation and the ability to achieve desired goals. Future Areas of Study The research conducted as a part of this synthesis project identified gaps in knowledge and future areas of study for transit agencies as they consider strategies to recruit, retain, and develop and advance women within their organizations in the future. Future research needs include the following areas: Lack of Information Regarding Impacts or Outcomes In many cases, even when a transit agency has a strategy in place to recruit, retain, or develop women, there are not methods used to track the impact of these strategies or measure outcomes to ensure that the strategies are meeting the needs they were designed to meet. As such, future research efforts should focus on ways to measure these impacts and outcomes, showing how effective the strategies are or identifying ways in which they may need to be modified to achieve the desired outcomes. Interactions Among Implemented Strategies Some transit agencies may implement individual strategies described in this synthesis, while other transit agencies may choose to implement multiple strategies. Research does not cur- rently identify the ways in which these strategies might affect one another or take away from other efforts. For example, if two separate strategies are implemented to focus on retaining women within the transit agency, will these strategies have an additive or multiplicative impact, or will trying to focus effort on two separate strategies take away from the effectiveness of implementing either strategy? Understanding this type of information will help transit agencies determine how to best allocate their resources in a way to gain the maximum economical and beneficial benefits possible. Boundary Conditions for Effective Strategy Implementation In many cases, a strategy is only implemented in one type of transit agency (e.g., a large urban transit agency but not a small rural transit agency) or with only one type of employee (e.g., for operations employees but not for maintenance employees). In these types of situations, addi- tional data and research may be needed to fully understand the types of environments or situa- tions in which the strategy will be more or less effective, or if there are certain conditions under which a strategy will not be implementable or useful. While some initial data regarding this topic are available, most likely there are more conditions that affect the effectiveness of strategy implementation that could be explored and used to better inform using the strategies.

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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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