For too long, the transportation industry has been a man’s world. As we kick off Women’s History Month for 2023, the good news is that women are playing a greater role in shaping the way we travel, although we still have a long way to go.
- 29% of Metro staff
- 32% of Metro’s bus and rail operators
- 38% of director-level (which are mid-executive level) and above jobs on Metro’s staff. This includes the leaders of our congestion reduction, customer experience, finance, innovation, system security, vendor /contract management and inspector general departments, as well as Stephanie Wiggins, the first woman to be the CEO of Metro (a woman served as interim Metro CEO in the ’90s).
- 49% of Metro bus riders
- 44% of Metro rail riders
Achieving gender parity matters. Study after study have shown that organizations with high numbers of female leaders are more productive and successful. In the world of transit, gender parity is especially crucial, because having more women involved in running transit will create a transit system more likely to be used by women.
Here are some of our efforts we’ll be posting about this month:
•We’re releasing our new commemorative TAP card this Friday, March 3. The cards will be available for purchase for $2 at Metro Customer Centers. Locations and hours here.
•We completed a Gender Action Plan and it was approved by the Metro Board last fall. The plan is a direct response to our How Women Travel study in 2019 that found that our system could better meet their needs in a myriad of different ways. We’ll have another Source post next week on the Gender Action Plan, the improvements it outlines and some of the actions we’ve taken.
•Metro formed the Women & Girls Governing Council (WGCC) in 2017 to help eliminate barriers facing women on transit and in the workplace. It was the WGCC that sparked the above studies — and the WGCC remains active today.
•Metro continues to work to recruit more women into construction careers as we build out our system. Our Board of Directors last week approved this motion to further those efforts. About 3.7 percent of construction goals on our project have been filled with women — above the national average but below our goal of 6.9 percent. Here’s a video from last year about our work to help women land construction jobs:
•One of our key equity programs is the GoPass, which offers free rides to K-12 and community college students in L.A. County at participating schools and districts. We want to help students and their families save money and time traveling to school, work, cultural destinations and to take advantage of our growing transit network. To learn more and check if your school is enrolled in GoPass please click here.
•Another important equity program: Low Income Fare Is Easy (LIFE) provides heavily discounted fares for those who depend on us the most to get around.To learn more, see if you qualify for LIFE and to apply online, please visit https://www.metro.net/riding/life/. We’ve worked hard to make it easier to apply online.
•Women have played an important role in our local transit history. This Metro Library blog post is about Los Angeles Railway’s first Black motorman — who was actually a “motormanette” — and the above video covers early attempts to get more women into local transit.
•Here is our Off Peak podcast featuring Leilia Bailey-Leahy, who in 1971 became the RTD’s first Black woman bus driver and later climbed the executive ranks at RTD and Metro.
•Laura L. Whitlock was known as the “official mapmaker of Los Angeles County” during the early 20th century – and her love of L.A.’s transit system was reflected in her maps. Her highly detailed and prized maps are held by museums, the Library of Congress and Metro – and we’re honored to have Whitlock’s 1927 L.A. transit map on the wall outside our library at Metro HQ. More on Laura L Whitlock and her map making career can be found on this Huntington Library online exhibit from 2019.
As March unfolds, please keep an eye on our social media streams on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, where we’ll be sharing other content about Women’s History Month and women’s role in transit throughout March.