Last month, TransitCenter convened a meeting of 34 women working in transportation across the country. Hailing from 16 cities, they converged in Austin for two days of bonding and sharing ideas.
This group is the first cohort of TransitCenter’s Women Changing Transportation mentorship program. TransitCenter views the hiring and retention of women, particularly in leadership positions, as essential to the transit industry and the places that agencies serve. We’ve thought a lot about how to ensure that women’s voices are represented in the workplace and in transportation planning decisions.
Our Women Changing Transportation panel series explored topics like confronting gender bias and making male colleagues better champions of women in the workplace. Many of our panelists noted that women managers and mentors played an important role in their success, but many women still struggle to identify mentors they can see themselves in, and who are willing to go the extra mile to guide them through an organization. For women in or aspiring to leadership positions, tokenization, racism, and the struggle to find balance between motherhood and career often make continual career advancement an uphill battle.
With the Women Changing Transportation mentorship program, TransitCenter seeks to create a supportive network for women in the industry — a place where women can not only share their challenges, but also work collectively toward solutions. We also strive to create connections among reform-minded women in the industry — those committed to making transit more effective and equitable.
Though our kickoff event is only a few weeks behind us, we’ve already learned so much about how to build more supportive environments and to create opportunities for women in all stages of their careers.
From finding creative funding solutions for an equity-centered Vision Zero program in Los Angeles to leading the redesign of Austin’s bus network, the participants in this program are working on some incredible projects, and we’re going to use this space to share some of their stories with you. Elevating the work of women in transportation is a crucial, inspirational step toward restructuring the systems that keep women from reaching their full potential in the field. Please watch this space for their stories. In the meantime you can meet our incredible group of WCT mentors and mentees.