Management & Operations

Study explores how to attract, retain women in transportation industry

Posted on February 14, 2019

Women accounted for less than 15% of the total transportation workforce in 2017, according to a new Mineta Transportation Institute study. Image: Public Domain/Anonymous
Women accounted for less than 15% of the total transportation workforce in 2017, according to a new Mineta Transportation Institute study. Image: Public Domain/Anonymous

While women account for 50% of the working age population, the transportation industry struggles to attract and retain women. In Mineta Transportation Institute’s (MTI) latest research report “Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry,” MTI Research Associates Jodi Godfrey and Dr. Robert Bertini identify research needed to attract, promote and retain women in the transportation industry.

“Women accounted for less than 15% of the total transportation workforce in 2017,” says Godfrey, “and a key question for workforce development experts is why.”

This report analyses previous research on this topic and identifies what additional research is needed in order to close the gender imbalance in the transportation industry. In addition, Godfrey and Bertini identify a number of key recommendations for the industry to better attract, promote, and retain women.

A particular emphasis in this work is on the factors that tend to drive women from the field. Godfrey and Bertini identify the lack of female role models and mentors as a significant deterrent to women joining the transportation industry. Their research suggests the following recruitment approach to attract women into the field:

  • Diversify the perception of the industry to better publicize the presence of women in the industry;
  • Have a flexible and encouraging work culture to remove the stigmas of a male-dominated field;
  • Attract a diverse talent pool that focuses on how organizations foster both communal and agentic goals.

According to Bertini, “gender equality and gender diversity in the workforce are key to the economic growth required for companies to win the talent war. It is more important than ever to ensure that the talent pool encompasses all qualified candidates, and women are the largest pools of untapped labor globally.”

After recruitment, the challenge then becomes retaining those employees. Promotion and retention of women in the transportation industry is multifaceted and requires holistic approaches and dedication from all levels of employment. Mentoring, family-friendly policies, professional development, and leadership training are all key factors that lead to improved retention and promotion rates.

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