International Women’s Day and MobilityXX

March 8, 2021

“A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.” 

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight and celebrate women around the world. It is also a day at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America where we reflect on women’s achievements in transportation and mobility and focus on how our own actions can help advance equality in our industry.  

According to the book Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom,” successful female leaders in the transportation industry have always shown certain characteristics, including a singular focus on doing their job well and a vision of what “doing well” means. A good working relationship with, and support from, supervisors. An ability to seize experiences and opportunities. A penchant for risk taking. A vision and drive for being a change agent.   

If one thing has been constant over the past year, it is change.  The ability to innovate, adapt,  challenge entrenched gender bias and build new partnerships to help move our industry forward is a hallmark of ITS America staff.   Consistent with the theme of IWD 2021 #ChoosetoChallenge, ITS America and our industry partners are putting a spotlight on the inequities that women face in transportation – both at the consumer level and within the transportation workforce as a whole.  

Transportation is a critical underpinning to achieving the American dream. Access to transportation is directly linked to economic opportunity; and yet, women are at a considerable disadvantage.  

  • Women spend more on transportation than men as they balance work, home, and family trips 
  • Women’s safety concerns reduce their transportation options 
  • Women’s economic opportunities are reduced because of inequities in transportation  

These inequities are amplified by the lack of women in transportation in executive and decision-making roles, comprising less than 15% of a 14.8 million transportation workforce. At the CEO level, women in transportation are far below the industry average.  

Empowering women to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies will result in better transportation options for women and others disadvantaged by the system. ITS America and our partners WTS International Foundation and The Ray are launching a MobilityXX Action plan, including an industry-wide pledge program to improve diversity within the transportation workforce pipeline and at the leadership level.  A “manel” (all male panel) ban.  A pledge to enhance diversity in hiring.  Actively identifying and sponsoring women to build future leaders. Adding more women and diverse candidates to our board.  These are some of the actions that ITS America is taking, and we invite all of you to join us as we roll out the formal MobilityXX Action plan later this month.   

Our staff’s diverse experiences and skillsets enrich our performance as a team and how we serve our members – our team includes accountants, researchers, engineers, policy and communications professionals, event planners, association strategists, and more.   Our lived experiences as coworkers, partners, mothers, daughters, volunteers, caregivers, and friends enhance our professional lives, bring different perspectives to the table, and result in more creative problem solving to our most pressing challenges.   Globally, our partnerships with organizations like ERTICO and ITS Asia-Pacific expand our experiences and allow us to share knowledge, common challenges and solutions on a broader scale.   

The World Economic Forum predicts it will take 208 years  to reach gender equality in the United States – unless we act now. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and beyond. Collectively, we can all help create a safer, greener, smarter, and more inclusive world for women and for all.  

Laura Chace is ITS America’s Chief Operating Officer.
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