Who are we? The Women in ITE Program Committee fosters gender inclusion amongst transportation professionals and the communities we serve through testimony and research.
Our Goals are to make it easier to talk about gender inclusion and to find successes that can be replicated by ITE, workplaces, and in designing infrastructure for communities.
ITE’s Women in ITE Committee and ITS America partnered to bring you the Women in the Workforce webinar. This webinar, was held April 27 and was specifically designed to discuss new ways of learning and developing that provide a supportive environment for women in the workforce. The Women in the Workforce webinar’s mission was to inspire and empower women to lead in their workplaces and communities. The discussions were recorded and archived and you can view them here:
Student to Professional Video Resource Library - ITE’s Women in ITE Committee and Student to Younger Member Transition Task Force recently collaborated on this project to assist students and young professionals navigate the beginning stages of careers in transportation. Our District Rising Stars and 2021 Young Leaders to Follow were interviewed on a variety of topics noted below ranging from career options to the importance of certifications.
Women in Leadership: Words of Wisdom for the Next Generation - ITE’s Women in ITE Committee recently interviewed five women leaders in transportation to assist young professionals navigate the early stages of careers in transportation. They were interviewed on a variety of topics like their first job, career plans, challenges in their career and hopes for the future. The webinar will include a series of pre-recorded interviews followed by a live Q & A session. If you would like to watch the original prerecorded video that was unable to play live, you may view that here.
Save the Date! During 2023, the Women in ITE will host four Women in ITE Boot Camp Programs. The first will be held on February 8, from 3:00–4:00 p.m. ET and will be an interactive discussion on Leadership in the Hybrid World. More information will be available shortly.
Each month we will explore a new topic that contributes to safe, equal opportunities in the transportation profession and the communities we serve. The sidebar shows a tentative schedule for topics
I joined this committee when I realized we could make a difference – so much great work is out there. -Jen Malzer, Canadian District
I joined this committee because I remember being the only female engineer in many settings early in my career. I was fortunate enough to have great mentors surrounding and supporting me. I want to help other engineers have the same level of confidence that I was able to experiences. - Angela Garland, PE, PTOE, Pennoni
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Business Resource Groups (BRGs), and Communities of Practice (CPs) are all forms of employee engagement aimed at strengthening workplace relationships and fostering a sense of belonging to establish a diverse, inclusive workplace. Employee Resource Groups date back to the 1960’s. Some are very specific, targeting a small group and some are more broad, representing general demographic groups. They all share a commonality to advocate for an underrepresented group, foster inclusivity, develop allies, provide support and work to create a positive environment.
This month we asked for valuable feedback from some employers with successful programs. Here are their responses.
Alina Cheng, P.Eng., City of Vancouver, BC - The City of Vancouver has several ERGs and Communities of Practice (CPs), including: Black Staff, Caregivers, IBPOC Connect (for any staff that identifies as Indigenous, Black or Person of Colour), Indigenous Staff, K-ERG (for any staff who identifies as Korean, Korean Canadian and/or has Korean ancestry), Muslim Staff, Staff with Disabilities, Trans, Gender diverse, Non-binary Employees, Queer Change Makers, QTBIPOC Network (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour), Women in Operations (for women who work in operations or outside field roles), Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Women Planning in Colour, Equity and Decolonization of Data, Racialized Settlers Take Action, White Settlers Accountability, Decolonizing Grants Together – Grantmakers CP
Tamika Gunn White, MS, SHRM-SCP, PSTA – Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) has the following groups:
Edie Adams and Karla Diaz-Corro, Olsson - Olsson currently has three ERGs supporting women, LGBTQIA+ staff, and veterans. These are called the Women’s Employee Resource Ensemble (WERE), Prism, and VERG, respectively.
Alina Cheng, P.Eng., City of Vancouver, BC - ERGs at the City of Vancouver are proposed and championed by staff and are self-organized, employee-led groups that come together around shared identities and experiences. They need to foster inclusive and supportive work environments, and advance equity and decolonization in the workplace. Each group determines its mandate, scope and criteria for membership.
Tamika Gunn White, MS, SHRM-SCP, PSTA – Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace. They promote community building, valuing differences, professional development, and teamwork. ERGs center on historically underrepresented backgrounds, experiences, or demographic factors such as gender, gender identity, race, disability, nationality/culture, sexual orientation, age, parental status, veteran status, or other shared characteristic. Membership in all ERGs is open to all employees.
ERGs must align with PSTA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Mission Statement:
At PSTA, we intentionally make inclusion a priority. Diversity is what drives us. No matter who you are, where you are from, how you think, or who you love. We connect all people to places, to opportunities, and to chances. We always strive to be better. We pledge this to everyone.
ERG applications are reviewed based on PSTA’s ERG Guidelines, business considerations and support capability.
Edie Adams and Karla Diaz-Corro, Olsson - ERGs are completely employee-initiated and led at Olsson. If someone wishes to start one, they reach out to our DEI council for support and guidance, including getting the word out, drafting goals, and schedule. This ensures that we have interest and momentum for each group.
Alina Cheng, P.Eng., City of Vancouver, BC - ERGs benefit City of Vancouver employees by:
Tamika White, MS, SHRM-SCP, PSTA – Employee Resource Groups provide a valuable opportunity for employees to connect and support each other personally and professionally. ERGs strengthen an environment here at PSTA where all employees can contribute to their fullest potential.
Edie Adams and Karla Diaz-Corro, Olsson - These groups provide a safe place for employees to discuss relevant topics and challenges in the workplace, and they also exist to educate allies on ways to support these groups and move our industry towards more inclusive practices. Networking across offices, disciplines, and life experiences is also a benefit that many people have experienced through our ERGs.
Alina Cheng, P.Eng., City of Vancouver, BC - At the City of Vancouver, each ERG has 2-3 facilitators that plan and organize meetings and events on roughly a monthly basis. They are supported by the Equity Office who provides administrative and basic financial support, training for facilitators, and offers co-learning opportunities. The Equity Office also oversees the Equity Council, on which each ERG has a seat.
Tamika Gunn White, MS, SHRM-SCP, PSTA –
Edie Adams and Karla Diaz-Corro, Olsson - We require three basic elements – a leader, a senior-level sponsor, and a minimum of ten members. From there, the structure can be tailored according to the size of the ERG. WERE has several hundred members, Prism has about 70, and VERG has about 20, and while they all have similar goals of supporting underrepresented and excluded communities, they all run programming and content according to their own resources and member interest.
Alina Cheng, P.Eng., City of Vancouver, BC - City of Vancouver activities have included networking and community building within ERGs, bringing in guest speakers, undertaking deeper learning sessions such as the Fundamentals of Anti-Oppression, and volunteering at local events, as well as social activities such as going to an escape room.
Tamika Gunn White, MS, SHRM-SCP, PSTA – Here are just a few examples from last year:
Edie Adams and Karla Diaz-Corro, Olsson - We are still early in our development, so most of our ERG events are regular virtual meetings that are open to all Olsson employees, and the topics vary from practical advice to education to Q&A panels. When Prism launched, we reached out to office leaders to encourage them to set up Pride Month “watch parties” to get into the spirit of things. WERE has also spearheaded several more practical efforts, such as ensuring menstrual products were put into all Olsson office bathrooms.
Alina Cheng, City of Vancouver, BC - Allow staff to create their own ERGs and to meet without senior management present so that participants can speak freely and openly within the safety of the group. Also provide ERGs with a channel to senior management if there are any policies, practices, processes, systems, or behaviors that need to change in order to advance equity and decolonization.
Tamika Gunn White, MS, SHRM-SCP, PSTA – Support from upper management is critical for these initiatives to thrive. Hearing managers promote the value and importance of the ERGs helps the employees to buy-in and know that what they are doing is important to the organization. Both the employees that run these groups and the HR professionals overseeing them must be backed up with strategy and resources to help them remain sustainable. Also, it is very helpful to collect data, as well as track engagement and membership. These numbers help to prove the ROI of these groups and garner additional support and resources moving forward. We also leverage feedback from the ERGs to help us create and improve employee policies.
Edie Adams and Karla Diaz-Corro, Olsson - You don’t have to do this alone! Stay in lock-step with your senior/executive leadership team, as well as HR. Both will lend your group credibility and momentum, and you will also be more successful ensuring your actions and programming are in line with the goals of your organization so things flow more smoothly. Remember to lean on other internal groups as well – we coordinate regularly with our Communications team for social media posts and writing; our Volunteerism team to coordinate firm-wide efforts; and HR to support us if sensitive issues arise. And it’s always helpful to talk with others involved in the DEI/ERG space outside of your organization. Lean on what others have already done and you will have a lot more energy to put towards how you want your ERG to work.
Alina Cheng, P.Eng
Alina Cheng is the Manager of the Parking Management Branch at the City of Vancouver. Her branch manages all on-street parking policies and regulations in the city, such as permit parking, pay parking and loading zones. She has over 15 years of experience in the transportation industry, and her background ranges from planning, data collection and analysis to safety, sustainability and development review.
At the City of Vancouver, she is a member of the Women in STEM ERG and Engineering’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. She has been involved with ITE for over 20 years and is a member of the Women in ITE committee.
Tamika Gunn White, MS, SHRM-SCP
Tamika Gunn White is the Senior Organizational Development Manager at Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her current role involves leading the management and implementation of the agency’s training and professional development programs and strategic organizational initiatives, with a focus on driving innovative change, improving workplace culture, and increasing employee engagement.
In addition, Tamika is the facilitator of Leadership PSTA, the agency’s year-long leadership development program for high performers. She is passionate about teaching and helping employees adopt a growth mindset and apply learnings to elevate their performance and achieve their career goals.
Tamika has a Master of Science degree in Business Management and Leadership. She is also a Certified Personal & Executive Coach.
Tamika is one of the Lead Facilitators for FDOT’s Transit Immersion Leadership Experience (TILE) professional development program for emerging transit leaders across the state of Florida. She currently serves as the Vice Chair for APTA’s Workforce Development Committee and is a 2019 graduate of APTA’s Emerging Leaders Program. Tamika is also the Co-Chair of the National Emerging Leaders Committee for the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO).
Edie Adams, is a Marketing Senior Coordinator and Secretary of the D&I Council at Olsson. Edie is dedicated to driving the firm’s mission, vision, and goals through the implementation and facilitation of D&I strategies that align with our organizational values. Edie has nearly ten years of experience in editing, proofreading, and generating various media forms, including technical reports and memoranda, proposals, and project descriptions. As a Marketing Coordinator Edie organizes proposal efforts for multiple disciplines to produce quality documents for client review. In this interview, Edie shares insights on Olsson ERG’s.
By Jodi Godfrey, Erica Myers, Karla Diaz-Corro, and Alina Cheng
The year 2022 was an exceptional year for the Women in ITE Committee, as we have been more active, productive, and collaborative in many of our endeavors. We are so proud of the amazing volunteers that we are blessed to get to work with on this committee. One of the best approaches to ensuring we have the necessary momentum to be as successful as we have been, is in our planning ahead. Recognizing this need, we, as a committee determined that we would develop a quarterly bootcamp style set of deliverables that would not only be valuable to our Women in ITE members, but would also be valuable to all ITE members, and may even attract some new ITE members.
This inaugural quarterly bootcamp started in 2021 with a typical webinar titled Finding Your Voice: Getting Involved with Local ITE Leadership. Following the webinar, we hosted a series of short videos asking ITE District Rising Stars and 2021 Young Leaders to Follow about their Student to Young Member Transition into the workforce. The third of the quarterly events was a panel discussion with Words of Wisdom for the Next Generation. The final session of the Women in ITE inaugural bootcamp series was a live Zoom panel on Keeping Women in the Workforce. Each of these series were led by a different volunteer on the committee, and the results are a culmination of incredibly valuable resources.
The Finding Your Voice: Getting Involved with Local ITE webinar that occurred on July 19, 2021, included three astonishing women that have been incredibly active in various roles of ITE-- Kirsten Tynch, Suzanna Set, and Erin Eurek. These women shared their stories of how they got involved and how they entice others to get involved. They talked about how all someone has to do is volunteer and there will be plenty of opportunity afforded to them. The webinar left quite an impression on the audience and encouraged us all to be more involved in our local chapters, sections, and districts.
The WITE committee collaborated with the Student to Younger Member Transition Task Force to address questions students frequently have as they enter the work force and begin their careers. The 2021 Young Leaders to Follow and District Rising Stars were interviewed and asked a variety of questions related to career options, importance of certification, interviewing, ITE involvement and membership, job benefits, and skills needed. These interviews were produced as short videos, available here on the ITE webpage, and were organized by topic and question for ease of reference. The intent of this boot camp session was to give students and young professionals different perspectives on topics they often consider when they graduate and select a career path.
On February 15, 2022, WITE hosted a webinar on Words of Wisdom for the Next Generation. During the webinar, 5 women in leadership roles were interviewed to assist young professionals navigating the early stages of careers in transportation. They were interviewed on a variety of topics such as their first job, career plans, challenges in their careers, and hopes for the future.
The interviewees were:
Watch the interviews and see what these amazing women had to say!
The Women in ITE Committee and ITS America partnered to bring the Women in the Workforce webinar to the public. This webinar, held on April 27, 2022, was created to provide a platform for women to discuss new ways of learning and developing in the workplace. The webinar was specifically designed to discuss new ways of learning and developing that provide a supportive environment for women in the workforce.
The Women in the Workforce webinar’s mission was to inspire and empower women to lead in their workplaces and communities. The webinar featured a panel of experts who discussed topics such as succession planning, deliberate retention policies, flexible work environments, and removing barriers to promotion.
Our panel of experts featured four distinguished female professionals from the transportation industry, who discussed the importance of creating a supportive environment for women in the workplace. They also provided advice on how to develop leadership skills and how to foster a culture of inclusion and diversity. Additionally, the panelists shared their personal experiences and strategies for success in the workplace.
The webinar also provided a platform for attendees to ask questions and share their own experiences. The panelists provided valuable insight and advice to help attendees develop the skills and confidence needed to succeed in the workplace. A few highlights from the session are:
The webinar concluded with a call to action for all attendees to become active advocates for women in their respective fields. For more information about this webinar, the discussions were recorded and archived, and you can view on the ITE Website.
The Women in ITE then took some of the best parts of its bootcamp series, and we showcased a phenomenal workshop at the ITE Annual Meeting and Exhibition in New Orleans in 2022. We invited many of the previous professionals we collaborated with throughout the year, and had an interactive workshop that included icebreaker activities, a panel of speakers, and roundtable discussions. It was so fun to get to know so many fellow ITE members and learn about their passions and interests.
With such an amazingly successful inaugural bootcamp series, the Women in ITE Committee has decided to take on this endeavor again. Starting early in 2023, we will hold a webinar on Leading in a Hybrid World, followed by a panel discussion in the spring of Pivoting Career Choices: How to Create your Desired Job Description. The last two sessions will be a set of short videos with Interview Support Services, and a series of breakout rooms in a virtual Speed Dating for a Mentor.
We are excited to see what the new year has in store for us, and we hope that you will continue to remain engaged.
The Women in ITE Committee had a busy year in 2022! We explored several new topics in monthly blogs related to gender inclusion in the transportation profession. The WITE Committee also developed a video resource library to assist students and young professionals in navigating their careers, and hosted webinars on women in the workforce and women in leadership. In 2023, we plan on continuing to grow our blog with important resources and information, and hosting events on more great topics such as leading in a hybrid world, pivoting your career, networking, and interview support. Stay tuned for more information! Below are some personal and professional highlights from some of our committee members.
Michelle Mekker, Assistant Professor
Jodi Godfrey, Co-Chair of WITE Committee / Senior Research Associate
Angela Garland, Traffic Section Head
Carrie Falkenrath, Principal Transportation Engineer & Planner
Shruti Malik, West Unit Transportation Planning Lead Practice
Maggie McNamara, Assistant Professor
Laurel Flanagan, Transportation Engineer
By Laura Chace, President and CEO of ITS America
Transportation and how people move about their communities is something that millions of us take for granted every day. Few people actually think about transportation, or the fact that access to transportation isn’t equal, unless they are the ones affected. Time and again, women are forced to pay higher prices for transportation because of unseen “pink taxes” when considering the safest ways to travel. When you factor in that a large majority of caregivers are women taking trips with children or taking elderly relatives with reduced travel options to medical care, that added cost can skyrocket.
Meanwhile, despite the thought and additional cost that women put into their daily transportation options only 15 percent of the 14.8 million people in the transportation workforce are women. There is a lot of talk in our industry on the issues of safety and diversity but there hasn’t been enough action to match those words and intent. When transportation is so highly linked to economic opportunity, women already at a disadvantage, are pushed farther behind only by taking care of themselves and their loved ones.
That’s why ITS America, The Ray, and WTS International banded together to create MobilityXX. The goal of MobilityXX is to make major strides within the industry to increase that frustratingly low 15 percent of women in the industry by 10 percent over the next 10 years. An ambitious goal when considering the amount of work in front of us, but one that must be achieved if we want to provide transportation that truly serves communities. Without women represented at all levels of the transportation industry we will continue to see the needs of women - no matter what mode they choose- ignored and minimized because they didn’t have a voice in the room.
I was fortunate to have a mentor who gave me the opportunity to be involved in decision making and brought me into the meetings necessary to advance my career. It wasn’t always easy or comfortable often being the only woman, but it was critical to my future success. Not all women are lucky enough to have a mentor who will open doors for them. That’s why we created MobilityXX, to move past platitudes and promises about wanting to reach equity and focus on taking concrete actions to achieve those goals.
How do we achieve this lofty goal of increasing women in the industry by 10 percent in 10 years?
First - it takes all of us. This is not just a problem for women to solve. Men play a vital role in changing cultures, opening up their networks to women, mentoring, and being allies to female coworkers. No action is too small to matter. You don’t need to be a gender equity expert to make a difference, you just need to be a good listener, supportive and self-aware.
Second, we need to “stack the deck”. Do you know a host of great female candidates for a job posting? Put more women forward for job openings and promotions. Research shows that women often won’t apply for a job or promotion if they don’t meet every single criteria on the list- we need to empower women to go for the dream job…and the promotion. After all, men do!
Third, we need to start reaching out to the younger generation and re-frame how we talk about the work we do. Transportation is all about connecting people, access to opportunity, improving our environmental footprint and societal good. Those are goals that resonate with women, particularly young women. We need to position transportation work as foundational to creating strong and healthy communities to draw them into our field.
Finally, seeing is believing. We need to elevate more female voice in our industry so that younger women see that success is possible. Seeing and hearing these women speak shows current and future employees that ours is a welcoming field, one where their voices are heard, understood, and valued.
These actions will give us a start but there is much more work to be done. Are we making progress? On a macro level, women’s participation in the workforce has suffered due to the affects of the pandemic, but newfound flexibility and hybrid work present new opportunities to retain women if structured well. On a micro level, I look at intentional actions that my team and I have taken over the last 18 months. I have an all-female executive team. I have increased the number of women on my board by 10%. We have worked to add more diversity to our staff. These are just the actions of one organization but together, we make a difference.
How can you be a part of the solution? What is one action your organization can take to attract, retrain or promote women? Join us in this work at www.MobilityXX.org.
As Justice Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
TransLink, the regional transportation authority for Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is in the process of installing braille bus stop signs at all 8,400 bus stops in its transit system. This will help customers who are blind or partially sighted better navigate the transit system by letting them know which stop they are at and which bus routes stop there.
The braille bus stop signs include:
The signage is already making an impact to transit users. A transit customer who is blind shared that they have found these signs to be life-changing since they’ve been installed.
Sign installations are scheduled to be complete at the end of 2022 and will make TransLink the first transit system in Canada to have braille signage across its entire bus system.
For more information, visit TransLink’s Access Transit Program.
Source: TransLink’s braille signage media release.
Communication is a concept near and dear to my heart, which was the reason I volunteered to take on the challenge of writing the blog for the month of September. As I started writing this blog, several thoughts went through my mind. What does it mean to communicate? And what makes communication effective or ineffective?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communication as the skill using which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Simple enough to understand – until we add the adjective “effective” to it. Now what makes communication effective or ineffective? This opened a whole range of questions in my mind:
As illustrated in the word cloud below, effective communication is a multidimensional concept. It could be obvious such as written, graphical, or verbal communication or it could be implied – such as body language, symbols, or signage. Several factors can impact effective communication such as:
It can impact us in myriad ways, both professionally and in our personal lives:
As project managers, we all understand that 90% of the project manager’s time on a project is spent on communication. So clearly, there’s more to communication than meets the eye – over my 20+ year career, I’ve witnessed individuals literally build their careers through good communication means and just as easily damage relationships through brash communication skills.
The famous quote by poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is something I’ve learned to live by - “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. It is the softer side of communication that is harder to navigate.
We all want to live our lives fully – getting the most bang out of the buck – when we’re in the workplace and while we’re spending time with our loved ones. Since communication plays such an important role in our daily lives and at every stage in our careers, I am sharing a few tips/suggestions to help my fellow professionals build a strong reputation and be a valued member of your teams/agencies:
I hope you found these suggestions helpful and please feel free to contact me to discuss/exchange ideas related to communicating effectively. Communication is an art more than a science so there isn’t a defined manual to master this skill. Continue to build and add more tools in your toolbox so you’re able to customize based on your specific situation. Knowing when to use which one comes with repetition and practice!
Shruti Malik, TE, PMP, ENV SP
ITE Equity Committee Co-Chair & Women in ITE Member
West Unit Transportation Planning Practice Lead
In addition to traveling via personal vehicle or plane, WITE (Women in ITE) members have used walking, biking, zipline, golf cart, backpacking (yes, it’s different from walking!), and tow truck as modes of transportation for their vacation travel. Of different factors considered planning vacation transportation, cost and travel time (both duration and arrival/departure times) are consistently higher ranked, compared to accessibility, child safety, general safety, and attraction. This year, some of our members have traveled to: Las Vegas, Utah, SoCal, Colorado, Florida, and Canada.
How do you plan transportation for your vacation?
What’s a new or unusual mode of transportation you’ve used on vacation?
What went wrong with your vacation travel?
What went really well with your vacation travel?
This month’s blog is courtesy of Shelley Row, P.E., CSP, Blue Fjord Leaders
Close your eyes and imagine the sound of crashing waves, the feeling of sun on your face, and a cool drink in your hand. For some, this anticipation of vacation brings feelings of happiness and relaxation — for many more, it means added stress and a never-ending list of tasks. With travel season in full swing, it’s time to review the value of paid time off and discover four tips to help you digitally detach without worry.
The Value of Travel and Paid Time Off
Travel is very important to me and has been a large part of my life. I find that time spent in other environments, cultures and fresh activities expands my thinking, allows me to reconnect to my values, and practice the healthy habits I encourage my clients to use. Travelling and really connecting with the environment is an enlightening experience, and there are so many beautiful sightseeing spots around the globe to see.
Due to pandemic precautions and new work-from-home policies, 92% of Americans canceled, postponed or simply never planned to travel in 2020. Two years prior, a U.S. Travel Association study revealed that 768 million days of paid time off were forfeited. Not only are we now working more days, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported the “average workday span increased by +48.5 minutes” in 2020. Conflicting feelings of being seen as replaceable, as well as being the only one who knows how to get the job done, are two barriers to taking PTO that I discuss often with clients.
Four Tips for Vacationing without Worry
Maybe you are concerned that things may not go smoothly while you’re gone. Or maybe the volume of email to which you’ll return feels overwhelming. Or maybe you feel that the customer may not wait, and you’ll lose business. I understand all those concerns. They were mine, too.
Nevertheless, in 2019, I took a two-week vacation to explore Tibet — with no computer or email replies in tow. It is possible to be out-of-touch without the world crashing down; it takes upfront preparation, but you are rewarded with the mental and emotional space to absorb the wonders of your destination.
Ray Bradbury, American author of the seminal novels Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, was quoted to say, “Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” While traveling through space isn’t likely to top most of our out-of-office replies, there are bodies of research showing that people with ground-breaking successes had plenty of down time, and frequently it was during the down time that new insights emerged. I encourage you to carve out time for a break for yourself soon, too. It will help you treat your brain well, and ready you for insightful decision-making without overthinking.
Shelley Row is Founder and CEO of Blue Fjord Leaders. Shelley is a registered professional engineer, Former Senior Executive at the US Department of Transportation, Certified Speaking Professional and a trained coach per the International Coaching Federation. Blue Fjord Leaders are experienced training developers working with high-performing, technically-skilled individuals to grow their leadership competence. Find out more about Shelley and Blue Fjord at https://www.bluefjordleaders.com/.
(Original blog @ https://www.bluefjordleaders.com/the-value-of-paid-time-off/ )
Big data has been an alternative for collecting, storing, and processing transportation information for several years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of big data was especially important to keep transportation studies moving forward when traditional field data collection was not possible due to the reduced traffic volumes. Big data can be a good source for data collection and integration, especially in the safety field.
Big data can be referred “not only to the large volume of information, but also to the various types of data, the real-time nature of modern data, and the new tools and techniques necessary to manage and analyze it”. Examples of big data sources in the context of safety include data collected by sensors, cameras, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), on-board devices on vehicles, and smartphones.
Traditional safety data sources typically include traffic volumes, crash reports (from the police department), and hospital and emergency medical service records. Through integration of various data sources, big data can supplement traditional data to overcome existing safety analysis challenges. One of the most important applications of big data is to allow practitioners to proactively identify and address safety issues in the transportation system instead of waiting for crashes to occur and reacting afterwards. “Safety is Proactive” is one of the principles of a Safe System approach, which has been adopted by the U.S. DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) as the guiding paradigm to address roadway safety.
The Safe System approach includes a holistic view of the road system, which should be designed to anticipate human error and accommodate human injury tolerances, with a goal of reducing fatal and serious injuries. A Safe System approach incorporates the following principles:
The objectives of the NRSS address all the Safe System approach elements:
A few indicators that can be gathered from big data to identify locations of safety concern and implement improvements before crashes occur are near-miss and hard braking data. A near-miss is an incident that could have resulted in a crash but was narrowly avoided. Hard braking is an incident when a driver applies more force than normal to stop the vehicle. Near-miss and hard braking events can be a result of many different factors such as geometric constraints, distracted driving, or aggressive driving. These surrogate safety measures can be provided by big data sources such as connected vehicles, smartphones, navigation devices, video data, and LiDAR. One example is the study conducted at the City of Bellevue, Washington, which used video analytics for gathering large amounts of safety data to rapidly identify locations that have a high risk of crashes. The City proactively addressed safety deficiencies at high-risk intersections, rather than waiting for fatal and serious injury crashes to occur.
One of the main challenges faced by safety professionals is the lack of pedestrian and bicyclist exposure data, which can be provided by big data sources such as connected vehicles, smartphones, and cameras. Pedestrian and bicyclist volumes, for example, are a measure of exposure, and can be used to identify areas with high activity. Big data can also be used to identify trip routes and crossing locations for pedestrians and bicyclists, which inform where midblock improvements for pedestrians or bike route improvements should be implemented. For example, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) used pedestrian and bicyclist origin-destination (O-D) data from a big data source and overlaid it with FDOT's crash data to build exposure models. FDOT identified demand indicators on corridors: context classification, populations with high poverty rates, frequent transit service, and high bike-ped activity based on big data. Locations where transit utilization is high, pedestrian activity is above 60%, and where the percentile for poverty is above 40% were prioritized for safety improvements.
Driver behavior is a contributing factor in several crashes. Understanding how driver behavior impacts safety is important to inform better roadway design, construction, repair, and safety improvements prior to crash occurrence. One example of how big data has been applied to influence driver behavior and improve road safety is the partnership between big data providers and car insurance companies to develop smartphone apps that track driver behavior. Based on driver behavior such as speed, location, direction of movement, and hard braking event locations, a discount is given by the insurance company and applied to the driver’s statement.
This post has only touched on a few elements of how big data can be used to supplement existing safety data and improve the proactive approach to safety. The ITE Safety Council will publish the “Incorporating Big Data into Safety Analysis: An Integrated and Proactive Approach” technical brief in the Summer 2022, which will include a discussion on how big data is currently being used to strengthen the safety data we now use, what the available sources for safety professionals are, and what issues still need to be addressed. The report focus areas are proactive safety approach, data collection and processing, pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and driver behavior. Following the technical brief that introduces big data in the context of safety, the ITE Safety Council will release the “Applications of Big Data in Safety Analysis” technical brief in 2023, with focus on how near-miss information is used to improve safety analysis.
 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Public Roads - September/October 2016, Vol. 80 No. 2, FHWA-HRT-16-006. Available at https://highways.dot.gov/public-roads/septemberoctober-2016/big-data
 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Safe System Approach. Available at https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/zerodeaths/docs/FHWA_SafeSystem_Brochure_V9_508_200717.pdf
 Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Vision Zero Quick Bites. Using Technology to Move Toward Zero Deaths: Video Analytics - Bellevue, WA. Available at https://www.ite.org/pub/?id=15834592-0641-A788-C7B6-A2121B26490A
 U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Critical Reasons for Crashes Investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, March 2018, DOT HS 812 506. Available at https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812506
 Cambridge Mobile Telematics. Safe Driving Technology. Available at https://www.cmtelematics.com/safe-driving-technology/
Written by Marsha Anderson Bomar with contributions by Lt. Alexis G. Travis
I can break my life into many stages some of which might be described as turbulent teenager/college pressures, early work life, marriage and motherhood, early career, parents dying, energetic entrepreneurship, divorce/demanding work-family-life, merry maturity, white hair/health changes to name a few. In each of these seasons of life, the emotional ups and downs were real, often intense, and sometimes overwhelming.
As I proceeded through these phases, the only talking that happened was marriage counselling (that experience is for another blog). The conversations about mental health and wellness did not really occur except for some catchy phrases like “You will get through this”, “Time heals all wounds”, “Others have handled this and been okay”, “you are strong and will be fine”, which sound helpful but are not.
My journey has been complicated, challenging and I certainly would have benefitted from help dealing with the mental stress and strain. I wish times and resources had been different; you have that opportunity now and I hope you embrace it.
The arrival of Covid and the two years that have followed, although filled with much that is negative, delivered what can be interpreted as a positive. The conversations about mental health are now more out in the open and acceptable; it doesn’t mean every individual is ready to share or believes it is okay to discuss. It does not mean that all the problems are solved. Baby steps for now will have to do but see the possibilities.
I recently received an email from a corporate CEO announcing that the organization is providing financial resources to those employees who need help. Here is an excerpt:
“I’m currently grappling with marital issues, dysfunctional sibling dynamics, difficulty in forging genuine friendships - not to mention being severely overworked (which in all likelihood is a way for me to deflect from dealing with my own non-work issues) - as well as reconciling the fact that my Father is on his last legs and likely has little time left.
I’m usually able to handle a lot, and to have broad shoulders, but even this is too much for me to handle on my own, and I need professional mental health assistance to help me work through these challenges.”
In my college days, a dear friend died of suicide and our mutual best friend was whisked away by his parents never to be seen or heard from again. In a moment, I lost my team! I was in a daze for weeks but I just had to wait for the grief to find its place so I could fully function again.
Numerous celebrities, and even one of our ITE members, have fallen this way and we will never really know why – but we can be pretty sure, they did not get the help they needed when it mattered the most.
More recently the revered CEO of my then employer did the same. His family focused his memorial service on remembering the good, the accomplishments, the positive contributions to community but repeatedly, they talked about destigmatizing mental health discussions.
So what does this mean for you and when and how are we going to get there?
First, you should commit to self-care. If your cup is empty, you have nothing to share with others. This can be in many forms depending on your needs and preferences. For some it is a walk or a run, meditation or listening to music. Others need to talk it out.
Do you have a friend or colleague who is a great listener – not a fixer, just a listener. Talking out loud can help as things sound different than when they just bounce around in your mind. Is a friend’s shoulder enough for the emotional challenges or would you do well to engage with a professional? Find a counsellor or therapist. Remember, this is a STIGMA-free zone!
The virtual world can help you do that time effectively with the many services now available on-line but there are still many (like me) who do better with the IRL (in real life) format.
In the past few years, there has been great progress in the development of effective medications to assist on both short and long term bases. Just as it is important to seek the help you need, the plan you and your doctor or therapist define may include one or more of these meds. No stigma here - you take meds for many physical health reasons, why would you not consider them to address mental health?
Think about what can off-track you and when you need help to get re-aligned.
Are you good at setting boundaries – this can apply to work but don’t forget to be clear with family and friends, too.
What causes you to feel exhausted physically? Have you explored getting help with the physical ones – someone to cut your grass or clean your house, for example? Trade tasks you love to do with a friend who likes different ones.
There are many forms of burnout that can impact your frame of mind, your physical health and your relationships. Do you feel overworked? Underappreciated? Unchallenged? These and many more can cause burnout.
Do you fall into patterns that you know are not good for you, but they are the path of least resistance? How can you break some of those habits? At work, we often dread training someone else to do a task we do so well. We worry that they won’t get it perfect (of course that means the way we would do it). Really? Someone trained you and look at how great you turned out. Pass it along! What other patterns do you need to change?
What triggers your mood changes, your behavioral and performance changes? What happens when you are hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Distracted?
Are you experiencing any ‘isms’ like sexism, racism, etc.? Do you have a way to understand their roots and a constructive way to tackle addressing them?
Are you juggling too much? We all have our own thresholds and just because your best friend can excel at work, play, family and volunteering, doesn’t mean you have the same capacity. It is great to recognize your power and abilities and work to those but don’t try to be someone else.
Be truthful about what is the small stuff that you can handle? What rises to the level of creating a need for help? If you shed some of the small energy suckers, can you find the energy, the focus and the desire that you need to tackle the other matters.
In closing, let’s focus on music. It can be soothing, empowering, emotional and a great assist. I thought I would share a few songs from my list when I need to be reminded that the me as I am is good enough and that I need to take care of me (body, mind, heart and soul).
You can find this playlist on Spotify here. What are your go to songs for peace or to get you charged up? Email them to me at email@example.com so we can publish a P.S. to this blog with our collective inspiration represented.
I also want to acknowledge the huge inspiration my daughter has been in this journey. She is a Navy officer and has an Instagram account where she provides insightful content on many topics, one of which has been mental health in the military.
Check out https://www.instagram.com/milmama_ontherun/ and feel free to follow! I wish I were that wise at her age!
Note: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. The goal of this month is to raise awareness about mental health as well as to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. For more information, we recommend you take a look at sources from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, American Hospital Association, Mental Health America, and Anxiety & Depression Association of America.
There are great signs that transportation professionals are starting to understand and design for the needs of women and girls. And, in an era that strives towards using evidence to make decisions, it’s important to have a sense of the kinds of data that lead to equitable outcomes for all. This blog touches on some indicators that are being used as well as guidance documents to build infrastructure that will lead to safer, and more inclusive communities.
One of the first areas to see much attention in terms of mobility and gender equality is the investment of maintenance dollars. Several years ago, Sweden first made news that they were reviewing their investment practices and how they may be discriminating against women by focusing on cars, whereas more women walk and take transit. Since their efforts to balance investment with need, many cities are following suit. Other areas of investment are also being examined with cities like Chicago considering the merits of clearing sidewalks, “woke” snow clearing in Boston, and many cities contemplating free transit. Investment decisions in complete streets projects and value engineering processes go a long way in determining whose trips will be accommodated, be it comfortably, safely, or even at all, and are a first step in reviewing whether policy and decisions are aligned. Often, active modes infrastructure is cut from projects, facilities that are disproportionately needed by women.
Streets, including the public realm, are typically the biggest public asset in a city. That said, how many design criteria or specifications are tested against the needs of women and girls? In the early 2000s, it was common for cities to accommodate bike trips by building complete streets with 4.3 m / 14’ outside lanes. In theory, these would be wide enough for people biking to feel comfortable since there would be ample space for drivers to pass by. Without evidence this would work, cities made unfortunate investments in these wide lanes, which failed to attract active modes users. This design standard has since faded from our guidebooks.
Women’s Experiences as Transportation Users
Instead, cities today look for gender balance when collecting usage data on complete streets to decide if retrofits with wheeling lanes are successful. Since women and men have different appetites for risk, cities find that facilities that women choose to use end up being a good design for users of all ages and abilities. This kind of feedback loop, starting at policy through to implementation and evaluation is a great model for getting streets right. Shrinking the feedback loop through tactical urbanism and pilots may be a better experience for all and likely a better investment, too.
Geometry is a key factor that determines street design, and one that should be easy to update in guidebooks. There are several geometric differences or needs between men and women. Women are more likely to use cargo bikes with children and bring strollers on transit. While the geometry of these needs may be presented at the start of most guides, these have not always carried through into standard design elements like channelized islands, median refuge, or in the width of sidewalks and wheeling facilities. Women also have a greater need for safe and accessible amenities, like bathrooms with change tables.
Beyond geometry, there are many barriers that are more important to women yet may be undervalued in investment and design thinking. Women continue to be over-represented in cases of street harassment and assault, though safety data, which is increasingly being studied to determine high risk corridors, seldom includes this kind of danger. When the risks and barriers felt by women are not prioritized, counter measures will not be introduced. When known and unaddressed, policy goals will not be met. In the future, gender-based analysis that examines the entirety of women’s trips will reveal and legitimize the need for things like increased lighting at key transit transfers.
Calls to Action
Identifying the needs of women also requires process changes in the transportation industry. Some of these include:
For more reading on data bias and gender, consider Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. While not focused on mobility, this book digs deep into the importance of examining whose story is told and ultimately served through data collection. Critics of the book ask the author to go further and demonstrate the needs of people who are not cisgender. A reminder that, while our standards and guidelines may not speak for everyone – new processes and inclusive consultation can help identify, prioritize, and fund equitable street design.
Written by Jenny L. Grote, P.E., PTOE, PTP
When I think of pioneers in the transportation community, I can’t help but think of Ethlyn Ann Hansen, or simply “Ann.” But Ann was far from simple. She was a mentor, a wife, a mom, the first female Deputy CalTrans engineer, the first woman graduate in civil engineering from the University of Utah, the first woman master’s graduate from the Institute of Transportation and Traffic Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She was the first female member of ITE in 1958; a leader in District 6/Western District (WD) and an International Director (ID) on the International Board (IBOD), and much more.
I am only one of her many mentees, but one that will pass on the legacy she instilled in me. Much like my own mom, Ann expected perfection, or close to it, and the women who followed in her footsteps were ‘required’ to be committed to the profession and the organization (ITE) that she devoted her life to. Ann set the bar so high, it was hard to achieve her expectations for those who followed. But if you succeeded, you were friends for life.
We (Lu & Wes Pringle ) knew Ann and her husband Bill for 50 years. Ann was always an active member of the Western / District 6 District. She and Bill attended most District Annual Meetings where he was the only male spouse. The other spouses loved him. Ann was well respected by the District members and provided support for other women members. Ann contributed both technically and professionally to the organization.
Did you know that another woman pioneer came before Ann and was also from the Western District? She was Willa Wilcox Mylroie. Read more about Willa’s life at: https://www.ite.org/about-ite/history/honorary-members/willa-wilcox-mylroie/. She was the first WD President in 1971, and ID in 1973-75. Willa was also the first woman Honorary Member of ITE selected in 1992. Ann was selected as an Honorary Member in 2000, followed by the third woman, Marsha Anderson Bomar, in 2017, and me in 2022.
Ann was WD President in 1983, and ID in 1992-94. I was the third WD President in 1994; more than a ten-year gap between the three of us. And now there have been ten women WD Presidents since then. Marsha was the first International President in 1994, I was the second in 2002, and there have been two since then (Paula Flores in 2016, and Alyssa Rodriguez in 2021) and two more; Beverley Kuhn (2022) and Rosana Correa (in 2023). I feel like we broke the glass ceiling and made it non-existent.
Earlier this month, Colleen Agan presented a webinar to ITE leadership and stated that 25 percent of ITE’s membership are women. Ann’s article from 2001 stated that there were 15 percent women members 20 years ago. But the percent of women in leadership positions has escalated from 20 percent in 2001 to nearly 50 percent today. Now that is an accomplishment that Willa, Ann, Marsha, me… all members can be proud of! Who knows how that number will increase with the efforts of the Women of ITE Sub-committee and the new Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
Learn more about Ann Hansen's legacy:
Below are some of the words of praise from ITE members.
I am saddened to hear of Ann's passing. Hers was one of few female faces in the crowd when I first began attending meetings of the San Francisco Bay Area Section in the 80's, and I was honored to be among a group of women who presented her with the Western District's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. She was a wonderful mentor whose ground-breaking achievements paved the way for those of us who followed.
Dalene J. Whitlock, PE, PTOE
Ann Hansen was a true pioneer for women entering the transportation profession. She successfully overcame many barriers in a male-dominated field and led the way for other women to follow her. I think I first met Anne in 1977 when she served as a volunteer on an ITE Equal Opportunity project that was funded by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (predecessor to the Federal Transit Administration) and I was serving on the ITE Headquarters staff. Thanks to Anne and many others, our profession has made great strides in bringing more diversity to our ranks since the days when Ann entered the profession, but we still have miles to go in achieving equity and diversity.
Jonathan Upchurch P.E.
Celebrating someone's passing is never easy, given the emotions of having to say good-bye. In the case of Ann Hansen, a woman of grace and leadership in transportation, I find so many memories of her generous support to me early and throughout my career. She, as Western District President, welcomed me making me feel I belonged at my first Western District meeting in Eugene. The following year she included me in the planning for the International ITE meeting in San Francisco. Ann always was able to provide timely advice when I moved into Section leadership with the SF Bay Area. She was a person I sought council from routinely on my ITE journey. Ann demonstrated how to lead, always willing to provide keen insights. For all ITE leaders, being welcoming and inviting people to engage within our profession are some of the most powerful things you can pass along with our membership. I will miss her a lot.
Ransford McCourt P.E., PTOE
Yesterday we learned that Ann Hansen, an Honorary Member of ITE, passed away last week at the age of 90. Ann was a pioneer in our field. She was the first woman to graduate in civil engineering at the University of Utah, the first woman master's graduate from the Institute of Transportation and Traffic Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and the first woman to reach the Principal Engineer level in the State of California civil service system.
Jeff Paniati, P.E.
Each February, the United States celebrates Black History Month. This annual celebration of achievements by African Americans is a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” which was the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter has officially designated the month of February for this momentous celebration.
The Women of ITE Member Program Committee works to foster gender inclusion amongst transportation professionals and the communities we serve. The recognition of Black women as leaders in transportation is an integral part of that mission. The 2022 theme for Black History Month is Black Health and Wellness. The theme focuses on the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine and throughout the African communities, considering activities, rituals, and initiatives that they have done to be well. But how do all these topics intersect?
We as transportation professionals recognize the connection between the health of our communities, our citizens, and transportation. Access to transportation often dictates whether people travel by motorized means or make walking and bicycling part of their daily travels. Access to transportation for citizens also impacts their ability to access health care, parks and recreation facilities, jobs, and even fresh produce and other food resources. ITE offers technical resources on the intersection between transportation and health (https://www.ite.org/technical-resources/topics/transportation-and-health/
When looking back across the numerous Black women leaders in transportation, a common theme emerges that is worth noting. Many of these women saw the importance of public transportation and access for their communities. The following represent just a sampling of these incredible Black women who tirelessly advocate for quality transportation systems that serve the needs of all users and support their communities. We are indebted to them and their groundbreaking leadership serves as a model for all transportation professionals as we navigate the ongoing challenges of serving our diverse communities.
In 1983, Carmen E. Turner made history as the first African-American woman to lead a major transit agency when she became general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Her appointment to this position also reflected the overall strides being made by women at the time when it came to assuming key leadership roles in U.S. transportation. She began her government career in administrative support positions for various federal agencies. Her transportation-related path began with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Urban Mass Transportation Administration (the present-day Federal Transit Administration) in 1974. She worked as a civil rights officer at UMTA until 1976, when U.S. Transportation Secretary William T. Coleman named her acting director of USDOT’s Office of Civil Rights. In 1977, Turner left USDOT to work at WMATA as its chief of administration and advanced to general manager six years later. Her tenure running one of the nation’s largest transit systems earned widespread praise for her management of WMATA during a crucial time for the relatively young agency. Her accomplishments included overseeing a 40 percent expansion of the agency’s Metrorail service from 42 miles and 47 stations to 73 miles and 63 stations as well as the 1990 Congressional authorization of $1.3 billion to complete all 103 miles of the planned Metrorail service. In 1988, the American Public Transit Association (now the American Public Transportation Association) officially recognized WMATA as the nation’s best rail and bus transit system, and they named Turner as transit manager of the year in 1989.
Sharon D. Banks 
Sharon D. Banks was the General Manager of AC Transit, Oakland, California, from 1991 to 1999. She began her career with AC Transit as general counsel for the organization. She also served as the Chair of the California Transit Association and served as Chair of the TRB Executive Committee in 1998. She was nationally known for her personal integrity, for nurturing and mentoring young transportation professionals, and for bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and commitments in the pursuit of organizational excellence. She insisted that transportation agencies treat their customers and their employees with utmost respect. Sharon Banks led by example, and TRB awards the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation to individuals whose accomplishments exemplify her ideals of humanity and service by making a significant difference in the lives of those who use, deliver, or support transportation services. Banks also served as a member of the WTS Advisory Board and received the WTS San Francisco Chapter Woman of the Year and Employee of the Year awards. Each Year, WTS awards the WTS Sharon D. Banks Memorial Scholarship to women pursuing undergraduate studies in transportation or a related field to recognize her pioneering efforts to introduce cultural and organizational changes aimed at motivating the public transit workforce.
With more than 30 years of experience in the transportation industry, DeLiberio is known as the “Queen of Transit.” Throughout her career, she has led public transportation agencies and improved services around the country. Among her leadership positions are serving as President and CEO of Houston METRO, Project manager and superintendent of Green Line at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Director of Bus Services and Assistant General Manager at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Deputy Executive Director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and Executive Director of New Jersey Transit. She was the first African-American woman to serve as Chair of APTA from 1998-1999 and also led APTA’s Task Force for Mobility in the 21st Century. She was the 1996 recipient of the APTA Outstanding Public Transportation Manager Award. She has served as Chair of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) and has received the COMTO Thomas G. Neusom Founder’s Award, Distinguished Leadership Award in Transportation, Outstanding Community Service Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award. She was inducted into the APTA Hall of Fame in 2006.? She now serves as President of DeLibero Transportation Strategies where she provides consultant services to transit agencies and private transportation carriers.
Nuria Fernandez was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 15th Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on June 10, 2021, having a prior appointment as Deputy Administrator and senior FTA official. With more than 35 years of experience, Fernandez made a name for herself as an inspiring leader in the transportation industry. She came to FTA after serving as General Manager and CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), where she was responsible for 2,100 employees and oversaw projects, programs, and transit services that provide mobility solutions for more than two million people who live and work in the Silicon Valley. Her leadership in transportation crosses the country, having served as Commissioner of Aviation with the City of Chicago, Assistant General Manager for Design and Construction with Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Senior Vice President of Development and Construction for Chicago Transit Authority, Chief Operating Officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Assistant Director for the Department of Public Works with the City of Chicago. She has also served as Chair of the American Public Transportation Association, on the Mineta Transportation Institute Board of Trustees, the Northeast-Midwest Institute Board of Directors, and the WTS International Advisory Board.
A new year often feels like a time of transition, with many possibilities ahead to achieve new goals and make new memories. It seemed timely to discuss a few different types of career transitions with some of our ITE members this month, to provide insight and advice to anyone in the transportation community who may be currently going through a transition or looking to make a change. We asked each of our contributors from across the United States and Canada to answer a few questions to describe their recent experiences and some provide advice to other ITE members.
Alina Cheng (City of Vancouver)
Please tell us a little bit about your transition
Three years ago, I transitioned from being a project engineer to being a branch manager, overseeing around 25 staff.
What was most difficult about this transition for you?
The most difficult part of this transition was learning all of the administrative processes and systems associated with being in management, ranging from hiring to budgeting to procurement to labour relations and more. With the City of Vancouver being a relatively large municipality with processes for everything, there was much to learn and not everything could be easily found on our internal website. Thankfully, an experienced branch manager recognized this gap and stepped up to offer weekly 'Management 101' sessions to get me and a few others up to speed.
What did you learn during this transition?
During this transition, I learned to ask a lot of questions and to better recognize when to ask for help. As some processes were not well documented, at times it was more expedient to ask someone who had institutional knowledge of the topic, as they could not only tell you how to do something, but also why it was done that way. These informal history lessons provided valuable insight into the organization and interdependencies and highlighted the importance of networking, both internally and externally.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to navigate a similar transition?
For anyone who may be making a similar transition, I encourage you to seek out peers or mentors within your organization who can show you the ropes or at least point you in the right direction. People are often quite willing to help someone who is new in the role, and having a support network will help you navigate changes and challenges in the future.
Derrick Estell (Bartlett & West)
Please tell us a little bit about your transition
I have grown up and lived in small-town Midwest for essentially all my life. I had an eagerness to experience different lifestyles, cultures, and engineering outside of what I have always known and been accustomed to. Being at the stage in my career that I am in, and without any major life commitments, I thought, “What better a time to branch out and gain new experiences?” I landed on Honolulu, HI. Not only did I geographically relocate to a big city on a remote island, but I also made the transition from public sector to private sector in my career – which was also quite the learning experience.
What was most difficult about this transition for you?
The most difficult part about this transition was being so far away from friends and family. Extended travel times, COVID-19 travel restrictions, and what some refer to as “island fever” left me feeling a bit isolated and removed from the world.
What did you learn during this transition?
Don’t get me wrong, Hawaii is as beautiful as everyone claims, but in the time I spent away from the Midwest, I was able to learn more about myself and the things I valued. I was able to pick up new hobbies and find new interests that I otherwise would have never experienced. I made new friends and explored places I would have never otherwise gone. I learned a different way of living and how to connect with people from all over the world. I gained new career experience in the transition to the private sector. All-in-all, the transition, although challenging, was rewarding. It allowed me to grow as an engineer and as a person.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to navigate a similar transition?
I will pay forward some wise advice that was given to me, while I was debating making the transition; as folks grow older, and they begin to reflect on their life, often, the biggest regrets they have aren’t the mistakes that they made – it’s the chances they didn’t take. As daunting as the transition was for me, I knew that it was something I needed to do, and I didn’t want to reflect on my life 40 years from now, and always wonder how different my life would have been if I had simply taken the chance while I had the opportunity. To me, there is serenity in knowing that I won’t have those regrets years from now. I took a chance, and it paid off. I am better person and engineer today because of it.
Neelam Dorman (ITE Western District Past President)
Please tell us a little bit about your transition
I recently moved from Southern California to Portland, Oregon. With the move, I also transitioned to a large A&E firm from a mid-sized City.
What was most difficult about this transition for you?
Selling, buying, and moving a home is always tough. From a career perspective, my familiarity with the new market made choosing a place to work extremely important and difficult as I wasn't just picking a new firm but also a brand new team that I didn't know since I didn't work in this market. Making the transition during the Pandemic also added a layer of complexity as I didn't get to meet my new teammates in person.
What did you learn during this transition?
The biggest lesson was to take your time and be thoughtful. We explored the town and spoke with lots of people before we decided to move and when looking at a job. I was lucky enough to have industry friends from previous jobs and ITE to help me understand the market. These folks are also people whose opinion I valued on why they call Portland home. We would not have taken on this big move without their advice and guidance.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to navigate a similar transition?
My advice would be to not be afraid to take it on, do the research, and talk to people who offer you different perspectives. Having a support circle matters, whether its family, friends, or wonderful industry peers.
Maggie McNamara (Marquette University)
Please tell us a little bit about your transition
After getting a PhD and spending two years in a postdoc, I landed a professor position, which moved me from student to teacher and from advisee to advisor. It's the end goal of many a PhD student, but it's still a big move!
What was most difficult about this transition for you?
Suddenly being in charge of a semester of content is really daunting. I had a previous syllabus to work off of, but had to create all my own lectures, assignments, and projects and figure out how to design the arc of the semester to meet course objectives. Most PhD programs don't include a lot of training on teaching (being more focused on research), and though I had sought out some on my own and had a supportive department, there was a lot I had to learn on the go. If that wasn't enough, my second semester of teaching was suddenly moved online in the middle of Spring break, forcing me to readapt my class on the fly, and no semester since has been "normal."
What did you learn during this transition?
The view from the front of the classroom is very different from that of the student. You have to think about constructing a course in a way that leads students to build on their knowledge, watch for whether the class is bored or confused, and create fair assessments. For me, it was critical to learn to ask for help from my colleagues and gather feedback regularly from students in a variety of ways. Academia can breed a perception that asking for help shows weakness, but everybody I have approached has been more than happy to give me a hand learning the ropes.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to navigate a similar transition?
For anybody jumping into teaching, whether as a tenure-track professor or picking up a course as an adjunct, know that it takes about three times delivering a course before it starts to click. Some things don't go well the first time around, and it's not wholly a reflection on you - take the learning moments in stride. Second, ask for insight and help from experienced colleagues. Getting peer evaluations is often a requirement for tenure and can be nerve-wracking, but insight from an accomplished teacher is invaluable for improving. Lastly, it really is worth it. Teaching and developing relationships with students is the most rewarding thing I have done in my job, through all the ups and downs. In year 3, I think I'm starting to hit my stride!
This month the Women of ITE decided to take a brief break from transportation topics and share a compilation of various holiday traditions. With the ongoing impacts and stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, the importance of taking time to rest and recharge have been reinforced for many of us. To be able to do our best work in the transportation profession, we need to take care of ourselves.
There are also many different reasons to celebrate during this time of year. The holiday season is a great time for the ITE community to take advantage of the opportunity to slow down and spend time with family, friends and loved ones. Below is a collection of recipes and games provided by members of the Women of ITE Committee. We hope this brings you some holiday cheer, provides you with a new idea for festivities this year, or reminds you to take a well-deserved break. Best wishes to all and we look forward to continuing our Information Crusade in 2022!
Cranberry Orange Cookies (Jodi Godfrey)
Boursin Cheese Scalloped Potatoes (Kathi Driggs)
Potato Chip Cookies (Lisa Miller)
Taste of Home Butternut Squash Bake (Carrie Falkenrath)
Helpful Hint: You can use store-bought, cubed butternut squash or whole squash. Either way, cooking butternut squash is easy in a pressure cooker (or Instant Pot.)
Sticker Fingers (Erica Myers)
When I was growing up, my family started a tradition of having appetizers for dinner on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Since both Christmas and New Year’s Day always consisted of a large, traditional family dinner, serving a simpler meal the night before allowed my mom more time to partake in the festivities instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
This is something I can definitely appreciate now that I’m a busy, working mom myself. The appetizer dinners are a big favorite with my own kids, and my 4 year-old coined the phrase “sticker fingers”. We’re not sure where that came from, but it has stuck. Here are some of the appetizers we serve when we have “sticker fingers” for dinner:
Ham Roll-up Recipe: Add garlic salt and onion powder (to taste) to softened cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Put a small spoonful of the cream cheese mixture onto a thin slice of ham deli meat. Roll up the ham and secure with a toothpick. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Orange Jello Salad Recipe:
Place fruit and dry jello in a bowl and mix well. Add cottage cheese. Then fold in Cool Whip. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Magic Cookie Bars / Seven Layer Cookies (Maggie McNamara)
One of the fun things about getting married and starting a new family is the clash of holiday traditions. It turns out our households of origin share a favorite holiday dessert, prepared in different ways. For Magic Cookie Bars (a.k.a. the correct way), follow the layering order stated and keep at room temperature.
For Seven Layer Cookies, put the coconut on over the crust as the third layer and sprinkle the walnuts over the chips instead, then store in the fridge. In our house, I make them the Magic Cookie Bars way, but some of them make their way into the fridge to be enjoyed cold. Pro tip: melt the butter in the pan in the preheating oven while you prep the graham crackers and walnuts
Shortbread Cookies (Laurel Flanagan)
The Saran Wrap Ball Game (Jodi Godfrey)
As engineers we look at pedestrian safety in a variety of ways. A structural engineer designing a pedestrian overpass will focus on stability and fall protection. A highway engineer will design ways to keep pedestrians separated from the flow of traffic. Traffic engineers will focus on ways to get pedestrians across the roadway at surface level. The common thread is physical safety and movement. There is also a need to focus on the human elements such as generation, gender and disability or pedestrian attitudes, perceptions and habits.
How do we as engineers balance safety, movement and human elements? First, we need to understand the factors to be addressed. This blog will focus on three key categories: gender, pedestrian habits and vehicular interactions.
Numerous studies have been done researching the differences in perception, activity, and attitudes about walking based on gender. In 2004, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) held a conference for Research on Women’s Issues in Transportation. Of which, one of the presentations was related to Gender Differences in Walking Behaviors. The survey evaluated perceptions of neighborhood walkability, attitudes about walking and measured pedestrian activity. Three communities in Maryland were analyzed. The results indicated that women were more sensitive to safety issues, men walked farther but more women walked more often, women were less likely to walk at night and women were more concerned with traffic related safety. The article can be found at https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/conf/CP35v2.pdf#page=89.
Another article summarized a Stanford study examining walking rates around the globe. In the article it was reported that Sweden has almost no gender gap when it comes to walking. The country has focused on “gender-balanced budgeting”. For example, snow clearing is done on sidewalks and local roads or where pedestrian activity is higher before other routes. For transit rides at night, women can request a special stop if they feel unsafe walking in an area. More information on these efforts can be reviewed in the article. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/03/08/what-explains-the-gender-gap-in-walking/
How can we factor these concerns into our designs? Suggestions include creating safer environments with enhanced lighting, sidewalks, gender-balanced budgeting and education.
Do pedestrian habits contribute significantly to vehicle-pedestrian incidents? More specifically, does distracted walking account for the majority of incidents? According to a study conducted by Rutgers University in 2020, distracted walking only accounts for less than 20% of vehicle-pedestrian incidents. While engineers and planners instinctively focus on education to combat this perception, perhaps vision zero principles of speed reduction and safer roadway design should be more of a focus. One suggestion from the article is to evaluate crashes by not only who or what got hit, but why and how. We as transportation professionals can then design solutions to the risks. The article can be found at https://visionzeronetwork.org/distracted-pedestrians-distracting-from-the-real-issues/
In December 2018, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology published a paper comparing pedestrian habits at marked and unmarked crosswalks. A series of on-site interviews were conducted at locations that previously had crosswalks removed because they did not conform to regulations. The assumptions of the study were that behavior is a consequence of situational factors and that pedestrians are greatly influenced by habits and psychological factors. The main results of the study indicated that removal of the crosswalks reduced pedestrian perceived safety and increased awareness at the location. This interesting study can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330645211_Pedestrians'habits_while_crossing_the_road_at_a_former_zebra_crossing
While pedestrian habits certainly contribute to incidents, responsibility is shared between pedestrian and driver.
With the increase in Automated and Autonomous vehicles, the risk of pedestrian-vehicle interactions is forefront in research and media. A paper published in 2017 by the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands focused on the importance of eye contact and gestures between pedestrians and drivers. Video observation was completed under busy traffic situations where negotiation was necessary. Roadways with and without designated crosswalks were observed. In part this research was conducted to determine if lack of communication between pedestrian and Automated/Autonomous vehicles will be a factor. The research suggests that pedestrians are not dependent on these methods of communication to traverse a roadway and primarily resort to these methods when the movement of the vehicle is not what was expected. The paper can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320073542_Pedestrian_Interaction_with_Vehicles_Roles_of_Explicit_and_Implicit_Communication
So how do we as transportation professionals raise awareness of both drivers and pedestrians to share the responsibility of this interaction? One agency in Massachusetts recently provided incentives to pedestrians for practicing safe habits. Random visitors to Union Station were awarded gift cards when observed using safe practices. See the news release here: https://www.springfieldunionstation.com/union-station-rewards-people-practicing-safe-pedestrian-habits/
We have only touched on a few elements related to factors effecting pedestrian safety. As transportation professionals we need to not only focus on physical features of the roadway, but also thinking “outside the box” about human interactions, gender-based implications and many other aspects to improve safety for all road users. Additional resources for pedestrian safety are shown below:
When I think of the word ‘Promotion’ relative to the workplace, the first definition that comes to mind is - Getting recognition for one’s achievements through job titles, pay increases, being a leader for your team, and being involved in important decision making and thereby leading to advancement in career. The key words in the above definition are ‘being recognized for one’s work efforts and successes’. ‘Getting recognized for your achievements’ may sound like a no brainer, but plenty of research on gender disparity, as well as our collective experiences, have shown that this is an uphill task for women. Whether it be from their supervisors and seniors not showing acknowledgement on a job well done, or from not being considered for a promotion to the next level on more than one occasion, women have had to learn to be their own “self-promoters” to get that recognition.
Gender disparity is a huge topic but the focus of this blog is to highlight “Self-promotion” as an effective strategy for women to getting recognized and advancing their career. Self-promotion can be defined as taking actions to make others aware of your achievements. Being pro-active in efforts to make your achievements and progress visible can be a game-changer in getting that positive response needed to get to the next level.
In a perfect world, our supervisors and employers will learn about and recognize each employee’s achievements without self-promotion. However, we live in a less than perfect world where we have all heard the phrase ‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease’. This phrase brings home the importance of self-promotion that includes actions like visibility (online and offline) and making others aware of your skillset and successes. Taking steps to gain acknowledgement for your successes can help with your career promotion in the literal sense, though sometimes that is easier said than done. Those of you, who find it difficult to self-promote, you are not alone. Over the years I have developed a list of some of personal mantras that have helped me:
When you feel promotion is your right and you should not have to remind someone why you deserve that promotion, consider this –
Stay positive in making every project a success despite lack of recognition and continue to promote yourself, your team, and others around you. Look for ways to bring attention to your work and not get discouraged.
Several studies (some are listed below) have shown that self-promotion is a proven strategy for women to achieve career advancement and provide specific case studies for those who might be interested in learning more about self-promotion.
Note: This blog is not meant to suggest that women should change themselves to receive promotions but is meant to provide some research findings and my perspectives on importance of self-promotion.
Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is a tool that ‘helps to identify who benefits and who is excluded from an organizations' decisions’ (Government of Alberta). The City of Edmonton does a great job of explaining this in a video and describes this work as 'applying lenses' of people with different lived experiences to the policy, construction, and operation of the city infrastructure. In that light, GBA+ then becomes a tool to help work through this exercise of lenses.
The idea of lenses and empathy has always been of interest to me as an 'engineering cartoonist'. In a recent comic book I published on walkability and I imagined superpowers for myself that I could evoke to help make changes to our transportation environment. In that comic, one of the powers was 'Empathy Awareness Goggles' and they would be used to highlight some of the issues that can often go unnoticed.
Panel 1: A first-person view of a sidewalk on a city street with several hazards ahead. A caption states, “When it seems like no one notices our disabling streets, I’d use my…”
Inset Panel: A pair of goggles in an inset splash bubble, labeled in decorative text: “Empathy awareness goggles.”
Panel 2: The same streetscape is shown, this time with green highlights over the hazards: a crack, a puddle, a bump in the sidewalk, the location of the pedestrian call button on a pole, and the crosswalk entering the streets. The caption continues, “to highlight the design details that need to be fixed.”
Cartoons and comics aren't just limited to superpowers, though, and one thing that I love about this medium is the ability to create an environment, real or imaginary, to convey a specific message or stories. Prior to my comic book on walkability, I made a comic book on equity and the built environment where I provided some examples of exclusionary design.
Panel 1: The caption reads, “The tools that we need to access our city should not mean we can’t participate fully in our day to day requirements or desires. A few examples of this are…” The panel depicts person in a wheelchair outside a building with a sign on the door that says “Open.” There is a small raised platform in front of the door. The caption continues, “A small lip at an entrance”
Panel 2: The same scene, with the small lip replaced by a wall covering half of the door. The caption continues, “… may as well be a wall to a person using a wheelchair.”
Panel 3: A street corner with standing water along the curb that has flooded up onto the sidewalk. The caption reads, “Or a flooded catch basin blocking a wheelchair ramp because of poor maintenance,”
Panel 4: A lighthouse overlooking an ocean at night, its beam directed onto the sea. The caption continues, “May as well be an ocean between where you are and where you want to be.”
Panel 5: A city street corner in winter, with plowed snow fully lining the sidewalk along the curb. A person in a wheelchair rolls along the sidewalk but has no path to enter the crosswalk. The caption states, “or a poorly managed snow drift at a street crossing or slippery sidewalks in your neighborhood,”
Panel 6: The same scene is shown with a chain link fenced topped with barbed wire along the snow drifts. The caption continues, “May as well be the edge of the cage you live within until the seasons change.” A second caption reads, “The tools we use to get around should not mean we must settle for a different standard of living or level of human dignity.”
The metaphor of 'lenses' got me thinking about how we 'see' a street. For example, how historical transportation practices would compare to that of, say, a mother. In the spirit of GBA+, lenses, and empathy, I made the cartoon below for this blog post to illustrate how our lived-experiences and backgrounds influence how we view our environments.
One panel begins with the caption: “Our lived experiences and backgrounds influence how we view our environments and can affect how we set priorities.”
The image shows two people looking over a street cross section showing six lanes for vehicular traffic. One person looks skeptical and gives a thumbs-down, with a thought bubble showing a well-signed crosswalk labeled “safety & convenience,” a family with two children labeled, “All ages – all together,” and people playing jump rope labeled, “play.” The second person looks sad or concerned but gives a thumbs-up to the design, with his thought bubble containing stopwatches labeled “delay,” a volume graph with the peak hours labeled, a front-on view of a large vehicle labeled “maintenance > comfort,” and a speed gauge from slow (turtle) to fast (hare) with the dial pointing towards fast.
The bottom caption reads, “When we listen to people with different experiences and lenses on issues, we can create environments that are more inclusive, caring, and welcoming for everyone.”
As I reflect on the work that I have been a part of that incorporated GBA+, the importance of empathy is so apparent to me, for instance:
It can be simple stuff but can be overlooked so easily as we are constrained with schedules, budgets, and scopes. But, as I note in the cartoon above, 'when we listen to people with different experiences and lenses on issues, we can create environments that are more inclusive, caring, and welcoming for everyone.'
Turnover is expensive. Low employee morale impacts productivity. What’s key to not only keeping your staff but the key to keeping them happy?
There are dozens of personality assessment quizzes available for leadership development and self-improvement. The assessments can tell an employee a lot about their communication styles, risk tolerance and areas for improved focus. The goal of every one of these assessments: increase employee engagement through self-understanding.
Over the past few years, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has renewed its emphasis on employee engagement as a way to harness the sense of purpose that helps make UDOT successful. Happy and engaged employees who are focused on the tasks they love to do are proven to be a valuable resource for the organization they work for and strong indicators of employee wellbeing.
“According to Gallup, disengaged employees have 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability. When that translates into dollars, you're looking at the cost of 34% of a disengaged employee's annual salary, or $3,400 for every $10,000 they make,” said Mat Allred, UDOT’s Internal Communications Manager and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.
UDOT has implemented a strategic plan to help employees identify and apply their strengths:
A simple phrase to remember what strengths-based means is “grow the good.” It is an approach that starts with what’s working, and looks to build relationships, processes, and products from there. The Clifton Strengths assessment works from the strengths-based model to “grow the good.” It identifies people’s natural talents so that they can intentionally use and develop their strengths everyday.
At UDOT, the goal is for employees to feel that their work has purpose and meaning because each employee can see how their talents contribute to team success and fulfill UDOT's mission to enhance quality of life through transportation.
In the 2020 UDOT annual employee survey, nearly 68% of UDOT staff responded with their assessment of their experience working at UDOT. Overall employee satisfaction was rated a 3.85 on a scale of 1 to 5, which is a moderately positive score with room for improvement. When asked “at work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day,” employees responded with a 3.96 rating out of 5. UDOT will repeat the employee survey for at least two more years to have measurable results that indicate how the strengths-based focus influences employee engagement and wellbeing. Already, strengths conversations are connecting people with what they’re good at and providing a description of the unique contributions of each person on a team. This recognition and feeling of meaningful purpose builds a sense of lasting value where people can see how their work makes a difference to the organization and our communities!
*The Clifton StrengthsFinder is one example of many assessments available.
Road Trips mean different things to different people. For some, it’s the changing scenery and the changing light of a long day; for others, endless views, and an endless stream of wind through the window. Some, like my kids, are excited about all the convenience store snacks they’ll meet along the way, while others love to discover an unknown roadside diner. A road trip is the ultimate box of chocolates. What you’ll find along the way and what you’ll remember most are complete unknowns when you fire up that engine.
For me, a road trip always means music. Long stretches of scenery and its own personal soundtrack. Early road trips with my husband meant agreeing on a stack of cd’s that would be played in a carefully chosen order (from a portable disc-player connected via a cassette adapter, for those who remember). Current road trips include a curated playlist of the family’s favorite songs (yes, even the kids get to weigh in) and the hope that we can maintain the cell phone connection to play it. And just once in a while, a moment and a song come together in a perfect vacation memory. Like the way I see the sunrise on the eastern Rockies every time I hear “Satellite” or see a Southwest red sandstone vista when I hear “Moondance”. Like I said… a box of chocolates.
Therefore, in the spirit of an uncertain summer of vacations and the probability of more than a few road trips on the horizon (pun intended) the Women of ITE have assembled a playlist for our fellow Transportation professionals. We dug deep through the jukebox for a wide variety of songs to fit a single shared passion – Transportation. We hope that you might find some new (old) favorite songs and make some new favorite memories of your own.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know on twitter! Use the hashtag #iteroadtrip to make your suggestions and find some additional playlist chapters!
The playlist is printed below, or if you can find it at the following links on:
ITE Road Trip Playlist
Language is an important tool to drive diversity and inclusion. The way we talk about things both demonstrates what we care about and has an impact on how we think about them. In honor of Pride, this blog will talk about how to use gender-inclusive language to foster an environment where everybody can be their best self.
Gender inclusive language means “speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity, and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes.” (https://www.un.org/en/gender-inclusive-language/ ) It is a way to show respect of people regardless of sex or gender, and while some of the suggestions here may seem either trivial or like too much work, even small changes can make a big difference in inclusivity.
First, some definitions
The language around gender and sexuality can seem confusing and ever-changing because of growing acceptance and understanding of the richness of the human experience.
It’s common for non-LGBTQ+ folks to feel confused by the separation of sex and gender – if it’s foreign to your own experience, it can be difficult to understand. To be inclusive and use inclusive language though, you do not have to understand LGBTQ+ identities, only respect them. There are also many different ways to present oneself to the world – always respect what someone wishes to be called rather than dictating pronouns by dress or appearance.
The first step forward is to listen and always be open to learning. Nobody expects you to get everything right on day one, and even people within the LGBTQ+ community have new things to learn from each other.
Normalize sharing your pronouns rather than making assumptions based on how people present. This can include in e-mail signatures, social media bios, on nametags at conferences, and in introducing oneself. When cisgender (i.e., not trans) people share pronouns, it creates a more open environment in which trans people can also feel comfortable sharing their pronouns. It is not helpful to make this mandatory. Though this can be a well-meaning expression of inclusivity, it can put people who are transitioning or in the process of coming out in an uncomfortable spot – let them tell you in their own time.
Try to avoid gendered language or phrases that lean on stereotypes. Opening a speech with “ladies and gentlemen” leaves those in the middle feeling unheard – try “Welcome, everyone!” instead. For “men and women,” substitute “people” or “folks.” The pronouns “they” or “one” can replace “he/she.” Becoming aware of gendered language, like “manning up” or referring to all of our race as “mankind” is the first step to welcoming all people in every aspect of your speech.
Be willing to admit mistakes and move on. Trip up on somebody’s pronouns? Address a mixed crowd as “gents?” Simply correct the mistake and continue. Dwelling on it serves to increase guilt and (even when not intended) asks minorities to do the emotional work of forgiving the person who made the mistake. Changing your language is a process. Give yourself the time to learn and grace when you misstep, and the folks in your life will lend you the same.
You may find yourself in the position of having a friend or colleague tell you that they want to be known by a new name and/or set of pronouns. Recognize that coming out is a vulnerable time for someone, and it is something they will have to do over and over to many different people. For instance, a coworker may have been out to friends for months before transitioning at work, and not quite ready to be out to clients yet. You can ask to clarify how they want to be addressed, and thank them for letting you know.
The best thing to do is practice their new names and pronouns. Let’s say your coworker Bob has come out as Alice and wants to use she/her pronouns. From that point forward, Bob is her “dead name,” and it is respectful to avoid using it wherever you can – it can be painful to trans people to hear their dead name repeated. Practice talking to yourself about this coworker – “I have a meeting with Alice today, and I will have to ask her about the latest designs on this project.” This is also a useful way to get accustomed to pronouns you may not have used before, such as the singular they/them for a nonbinary person.
If you mess up, correct yourself quickly and move on: “He said yesterday – I’m sorry, she said – that the project is near completion.” We’ve all said the wrong thing sometimes, the trans people in your life will understand the occasional slip up.
Lastly, you can be an ally around others. This can mean correcting the pronoun use of other people – gently at first, and more forcefully if they double down. Help others learn gender inclusive language. Call out insensitive jokes that put people down. Support minorities in reporting offensive and inappropriate behavior through the proper channels.
Ask your friends and coworkers what they need and how you can help. Showing up for them is incredibly meaningful and respecting one another brings us closer to a more equitable world.
While actually in my office one day recently, I overheard one of my colleagues having a circular “discussion” with one of his students on what I could only guess was an equity-related assignment in senior design. It sounded very frustrating and this colleague impressed me with their patience because the one line that this student said that stuck out to me the most was:
“Employers should have the choice to discriminate if they want to and employees can make the choice not to work there.”
Despite ongoing efforts, there is still a lot of misunderstanding of equity as an issue, particularly what it means and why it’s even necessary. As human beings, we struggle to see and understand anything outside of our own bubbles of experience. In my admittedly limited scope of experience, misunderstanding of equity efforts stems from an assumption (conscious or otherwise) that other people’s experiences are always similar or the same as your own. How you experience the world must be how it always works, for all people.
Think of this blog entry as a very brief, bare-boned primer to the issue of equity in transportation.
Disclaimer: I am a white, straight female and do not claim to be the authority on all things equity nor do I claim to represent all (or any) marginalized groups.
The Transportation Side of Things
In the broad area of transportation, we are mostly considering the bigger picture of equity, rather than individual interactions. While improving workplace equity and office behavior is important, it’s not the focus of this blog entry. Instead, there is more focus on issues such as: higher pedestrian crash rates in communities with higher populations of non-white or disabled persons; disconnected transit or active transportation facilities in low-income communities; land use patterns that are not conducive to providing affordable housing close to places of work; etc. Discriminatory practices, policies, and designs created decades and decades ago, whether or not they may still be in effect, have had long-lasting impacts. For example, while red-lining is no longer legal, the echoes of that practice can still be seen today in the form of informally segregated neighborhoods. Designers have “started to realize that if these different forms of oppression are by design, then they can be redesigned” (Carroll & TED Archive, 2019). Our goal as a profession going forward needs to be to move away from “this is how it’s always been done” to “how has this burdened vulnerable people and what can we do to improve?”
What You Can Do
Just a Few Resources…
Carroll, A., & TED Archive. (2019, January 17). Designing for a more equitable world. Retrieved from [YouTube Video]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9XKBgdOrHU
ITE. (2021). Transportation Equity Listening Sessions. Retrieved from https://www.ite.org/technical-resources/transportation-equity-listening-sessions/
Litman, T. (2021). Evaluating Transportation Equity: Guidance for Incorporating Distributional Impacts in Transportation PLanning. Victoria, BC, Canada: Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
Rodriguez, A., Davis, V. O., Meehan, L., & Riegner, J. (2020, November 2). A New Roadmap for Transportation and Health Equity. [Webinar]: ITE.
USDOT. (2013). Equity. (US Department of Transportation) Retrieved from https://www.transportation.gov/mission/health/equity
Pandemic fatigue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “is an expected and natural response to a prolonged public health crisis – not least because the severity and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic have called for the implementation of invasive measures with unprecedented impacts on the daily lives of everyone, including those who have not been directly affected by the virus itself”. The pandemic has impacted all of us, mentally and physically. In this article, we will look at two types of fatigue and some simple ways to cope.
Having the flexibility to work from home has been a blessing for many during the pandemic. But many of what used to be a quick five-minute conversations, turn into conference calls, where Virtual Meeting Fatigue happens. During those calls, we focus more intently on conversations in to absorb information. If it is a call with video, we are looking at the screen for 30 to 60 minutes without any breaks, because we think by staring at the screen intensely, is how we show that we are paying attention to the meeting. Or it is required by some managers for their staff to turn on the videos. Video conferencing fatigue, a survey conducted by Robert Half, showed approximately four in 10 have experienced video call fatigue during the pandemic. Women are experiencing a higher percentage of burnout than men by videoconferencing, 47% and 32%, respectively.
The pandemic challenges working mothers in different ways than working fathers. Prior to the pandemic, women accounted for more than 50% of the non-farm labor workforce while still taking on 70% of childcare responsibilities during the work week?, which was already stressful for many women.
For working moms, the stress level went through the roof, having to setup a place to work from home, while taking care of their children and/or elderly and making sure everyone stays healthy (mentally and physically). This caused Overload Tasks Fatigue.  In the 2020 Women in the Workplace report, done by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, they found during the pandemic, in addition to 40 hours on their jobs, women spent 20 hours per week on caregiving and housework. In addition, a study by Understanding Coronavirus in America Study found that women, particularly those without a college degree, have a higher job loss rate than men and carried significantly greater responsibility for childcare during the pandemic.
Ways to Cope
It is important for us to take good care for ourselves, so we can serve others. Here are some simple ways especially for the two types of fatigue discussed above.
 Pandemic fatigue Reinvigorating the public to prevent COVID-19, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/335820/WHO-EURO-2020-1160-40906-55390-eng.pdf
In honor of National Women’s History Month (#womeninhistory), we took a look at Women in Engineering. According to a 2019 study by the Society of Women Engineers1, only 13% of engineers are women. In addition, over 32% of women switch out of STEM degree programs in college, only 30% of women who earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering are still working in engineering 20 years later and 30% of women who have left the engineering profession cite organizational climate as the reason.
Women have a long history of making important contributions to transportation. A great timeline of events can be found on the U.S. Department of Transportation website (https://www.transportation.gov/womenandgirls/timeline/accessible). Most notably, on January 1, 1876, Elizabeth Bragg Cumming became the first woman in the United States to receive a civil engineering degree when she graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.
Our Sub-Committee is very engaged in promoting diversity and equity. Below we asked our Women of ITE (#womenofite) Subcommittee members “Why did you become an engineer/transportation professional and why do you think a career in transportation is great for women?”
Carrie Falkenrath: I chose Transportation Engineering because I thought interchanges were interesting puzzles that I wanted to solve.
In the 25 years since I made that choice, the Transportation field has really opened up as we (as a profession and a society) have realized how much impact Transportation has on quality of life. It's so, so much more than roads and bridges. It's access. It's mobility. It's delivery. Women are needed in the Transportation field more than ever to bring their own individual perspective to Transportation needs, characteristics, design, and implementation. The more unique voices we have at the table, the more people we can effectively serve - and the more our complex Transportation System will reflect all of us.
Melisa Finley: Love for math and physics, so my dad (who worked in construction for over 40 years) started introducing me to engineers that he knew. My dad also encouraged me to go to college and get an engineering degree. When I went to college I started civil engineering not even realizing transportation was one of its many fields. Like many before me, I thought I wanted to be a structural engineer. However, after my first undergraduate transportation class, I was hooked. While we may not have perfected traffic signal timing yet, it is vastly improved with innovation and technology.
Transportation engineering is great for women because you can connect with people, as well as apply the math and science we all love. We can impact our families, communities, and the world in the transportation profession. We are challenged to uphold safety while maximizing efficiency and ensuring equity, which leads to great innovation.
Laurel Flanagan: In high school I did well in science and math and my physics teacher encouraged me to apply to engineering programs as I began considering options for university. After specializing in civil engineering in my second year of university, I had my first transportation engineering course and I became fascinated by the subject. Transportation engineering was exciting to me because it’s so easy to see the direct impacts on the lives of others. Whether it be using some form of transportation to get to work every day, for vacation or exercise, or to access essential services, transportation is a significant aspect of many people’s lives. Becoming a transportation engineer allowed me to pursue a career in which I could see the impact of the work I do.
A career in transportation is great for women because it allows us to create a positive impact in the world with our technical skills and knowledge while also having the opportunity to be creative in finding solutions to problems. The transportation profession provides opportunities to come up with solutions that save time and save lives. People who work in the transportation profession also have a great opportunity to create a more equitable world and design transportation systems that work for everyone. Increasing the number of women in the transportation profession brings more diverse perspectives to the table and contributes to the development of more great ideas.
Angela Garland: I originally wanted to pursue either an acting career or a law career. After some research and a few basic classes, I quickly realized I just didn't have the passion for either career path. My father suggested that I had always been good at math and seemed to enjoy it, so why didn’t I become an engineer? He introduced me to a friend who was in the transportation field who gave me some great advice and inspiration. I next met with a co-worker’s father who was an engineer and he quickly dismissed women as engineers!!! Well, I wasn’t one to be told I couldn’t do something so my mind was made up on the spot! I think a career in engineering is great for women because we are natural problem solvers and critical thinkers. Math and science are important in engineering but more important is the ability to think outside the box and be able to solve problems. Women can and do excel in these areas and just need the support of other professionals to promote STEM careers.
Jodi Godfrey: When I was a little girl, I loved to build with Lincoln Logs, play with trains and cars, propose solutions to every challenge, and I was so competitive in math from the time that we started memorizing multiplication tables, that my dad used to tell me I would make a great engineer. I always dismissed his suggestions naively thinking that all engineers drive trains, and I was not interested in driving trains. When I was 17 years old, my dad died in a motorcycle crash at the young age of just 47. That loss and pain transformed me from a stubborn teenager to a young woman who was now yearning to hear those words of wisdom that I had previously dismissed. That drive pushed me to go to college and pursue engineering. However, it was my transportation professor who saw more in me than I saw in myself. He pushed me to apply for the job that propelled me into the career I have today. Through it all, there is something extremely important about being true to yourself, and focusing on what really motivates you. For me, I know that I want to make my community, better, safer, stronger, because I am part of a team that works collectively to achieve more than an individual alone. That sense of companionship, pride in the work we do, and ability to make a real difference, makes me proud to say I am a transportation engineer.
Jen Malzer: I first knew I would be a transportation engineer after hearing a talk about emissions and the environment and realizing that my research could make a difference. Since then, I’ve worked to improve community health, children’s freedom and mobility, connections for families, and have planned rail transit projects. I’m hooked and I think there are a lot of young women who would enjoy a career in transportation as much as me for the chance to collaborate to create better communities.
Maggie McNamara: I got into transportation because it's an optimization problem that's never done. It's also a system that is vital to everybody's day-to-day lives, but that most people don't give much thought, and now I get to teach students about it and it's like letting them in on a secret that's been right in front of them.
We talk a lot about engineering careers being for people who are good at math and science, but I've come to believe that engineering, especially in transportation, is a caring profession. Everything we do impacts how people get around, how they access goods and services and employment, and the decisions we make have wide-rippling impacts. More diversity in the profession is going to lead to a more equitable and just transportation system.
Michelle Mekker: I became a transportation engineer because of the human element, multidisciplinary nature, scope, and general visibility. Transportation is a field that is very personal to both the professionals within it and the people using the transportation system. There are as many perspectives of the system as there are human beings on the planet. I think that transportation is a great career for women because, while engineering has traditionally been gendered, transportation is a necessity of life regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, etc. We need as many different perspectives as we can get.
Lisa Miller: I'm a transportation professional because I believe in the power of sharing good information. We have a responsibility to message to our customers - road and transit users, those who need a first-mile/last-mile connection and those who choose active transportation - so they understand the investments in their transportation network. Engineers and transportation professionals have a keen eye for detail, and women who make a career in the transportation field have a great ability to listen, plan and respond in order to facilitate great outcomes.
Erica Myers: Growing up, my 2 favorite subjects in school were math and art. When it came time for me to apply to college and decide on a career path, I was leaning towards an art history degree. But my dad steered me towards engineering, believing it would be a better fit for my natural abilities and a more stable profession for a female. While I pursued a Civil Engineering degree in college, I naturally gravitated toward a focus on transportation and have never looked back! It has been a great career because my work is often very technical (which fuels my love of math) but also gives me a sense of accomplishment that I am making a difference in the work that I do. It is very fulfilling when you see a project come to fruition. I think a career in transportation is great for women because it provides so many opportunities that allow you to match your abilities with your passions. Whether you choose to focus on technical work, big picture planning, policy making, or even the public relation side of the industry, there is a place for you.
What is it?
Benevolent sexism – it sounds contradictory at first, but have you ever witnessed someone make a comment to a female colleague that is seemingly positive but somehow feels unsettling? Maybe you have also been on the receiving end of such a comment. Perhaps it’s a male colleague apologizing for cursing in front of a female colleague (implying that she is too delicate to hear this and must be protected) or letting her know how great she is at being the “office mom” because of her natural caring ability. Or it may be a female colleague directing a similar statement towards another female colleague. While it may seem easy to ignore or brush off such comments, benevolent sexism can be very degrading and create damaging stereotypes towards women that minimize their professional capabilities in the workplace.
The ambivalent sexism theory was first presented by Peter Glick and Susan Fiske, which distinguishes between hostile and benevolent sexism. Hostile sexism refers to the more typical connotation associated with sexism, including derogatory beliefs such as women are less competent than men, or women are unfit to carry out certain duties. Benevolent sexism is defined as attitudes towards women that are sexist due to stereotyping and reinforcing traditional gender roles, but are subjectively positive to the person who holds them and are often related to helping or caring duties (i.e. women are naturally more compassionate), or ideas such as women are delicate and need protection.
For a great illustration of how benevolent sexism can hold women back in their career, check out this comic by Emma. (This is the same artist who is famous for her comic on the Mental Load which was featured in our June 2020 blog – if you missed it, be sure to check it out!) Additionally, this article in Scientific American provides some more context and great examples of benevolent sexism in everyday life.
Benevolent sexism is just as harmful as hostile sexism as it normalizes gender inequality, reinforces traditional gender roles and damaging stereotypes and can encourage justification of the status quo or beliefs that sexism no longer exists.
Techniques for Handling Benevolent Sexism:
Below are some techniques for handling benevolent sexism in the workplace, for those on the receiving end, bystanders, and organizations as a whole!
Whether you are promoting a business, educating the public, inspiring others to get involved, coaching and mentoring or simply promoting yourself, social media can play a huge role in growing your online presence. We decided to interview some social media influencers, presenting them with six questions on their tips and tricks for online success. Please check out the bios of our contributors and connect with them on social media.
Dale Bracewell is the Manager of Transportation Planning for the City of Vancouver (Canada). Dale and his team lead the citywide and community planning implementation of Transportation 2040, the city’s long range transportation plan for all modes. Dale previously led Vancouver’s transportation planning and operations for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. With more than 20 years of transportation planning and design experience, Dale is a Professional Engineer who has worked for both municipal and provincial governments as well as the private sector. He currently enjoys working in one of the world’s most livable cities encouraging and realizing sustainable transportation legacies for Vancouver.
Zaki Mustafa, ITE International President 2013, is the founder of Jackets for Homeless – Transforming a Life. Zaki states he is the retired guy who still believes in helping us promote our quality of life…..Together we are the best! www.transformingalife.org
Shelley Row is Founder and CEO of Blue Fjord Leaders, Shelley Row, PE, CSP, is an Inc. Magazine top 100 leadership speaker and Certified Speaking Professional. An engineer and former senior government executive, Shelley engineers leaders to see beyond the data by creating skilled self-awareness, empathy, and communication for decision-making, delegation, teaming, and more. www.bluefjordleaders.com.
Heather Wright Schlichting has more than 15 years of corporate communications experience creating thoughtful campaigns to improve customer relations and drive results. She founded The Write Blend to develop persuasive digital marketing strategies for organizations to enhance their awareness, increase revenue and foster growth.
BRACEWELL: I use social media not as official representative of the City, but to showcase the City’s goals. I incorporate the evidence and thoughts about what we are doing at the City. I use Twitter to help expand followers’ thoughts around mobility and how it is consistent with where they are trying to go. My goal is for followers to see it, like it and retweet. If a tweet is worth my time to post, I don’t worry if it gets a lot of attention. If it does, then that’s a bonus. I used LinkedIn more as a professional rather than a focus on mobility.
MUSTAFA: My objective is to inspire others to host a jacket drive to help our friends in need, to care for others and improve their quality of life. With that objective in mind, I find Facebook is most effective to reach the older generation. The younger generation does not tend to use Facebook as much. LinkedIn is effective to get companies involved.
ROW: For my audience who are mostly technical professionals, we have found that LinkedIn and Twitter are best.
SCHLICHTING: One of my clients, Melissa Wandall (https://www.melissawandalladvocate.com), states “LinkedIn! I feel this platform is full of people that are looking to be educated about any topic, are willing to agree to disagree, and are honestly open to "listen and learn." They are not looking to be aggressive and genuinely support and encourage more than any other social media platform. I have also received many speaking engagements from LinkedIn.”
BRACEWELL: I post on Twitter an average of once a day and on LinkedIn once a week at most, sometimes more if I have a post of substance. I also find that time of day is critical. I find posts most effective when posted mid-morning and around lunch time.
MUSTAFA: I post almost every other day but it depends on the topic I am promoting. If I am targeting companies, then the beginning of day or Sunday night is best. If I am targeting their staffs, then right before quitting time. If I am targeting everyone, then Friday at lunch.
ROW: I post at least once per day M-F on LinkedIn and up to five times per day on Twitter. The frequency depends on the topic and purpose of the post.
SCHLICHTING: Typically, I post 3-5 times per week. Some of the social channels measure analytics and tell you what days of the week and times are best for you to post based on when your audience is interacting with your messaging. This information will help determine how often you should schedule your posts.
BRACEWELL: Not very much. I try to post major milestones for the City and may preplan out graphics. I have a habit of staying consistent to stay relevant (scanning at least once a day). Get a narrative of what’s out there to get your own thoughts on things and to develop or share posts.
MUSTAFA: On average a couple of hours a day, actively. However, I spend a lot of time developing my posts, such as gathering information and taking pictures.
ROW: Creating compelling and meaningful posts takes time. As a small business, my time is limited so I work with Social Burro (@SocialBurro) to create, post and manage my social platforms. They spend 14-18 hours/week creating content from my newsletters, books and other resources.
SCHLICHTING: To create imagery to accompany your social posts and write the actual content, you could spend 30 minutes per week. These posts can be repurposed for different channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. To make the process easier, find an image template that you can alter per post. Canva is a great, free tool that offers templates for all types of social media channels.
BRACEWELL: Ignore them. I ask myself what will the public get out of responding?
MUSTAFA: Ask them to contact you directly if possible. Do not get into a back on forth on the platform. Listen to them to understand their complaint to maybe alleviate the problem.
ROW: It’s rare that we receive a negative comment. It’s more likely that someone may disagree with my opinion. Unless the comment is over-the-top, we always respond politely and calmly. If possible, we use the opportunity to validate the commenter while also restating or clarifying our opinion.
SCHLICHTING: My client, Melissa Wandall (https://www.melissawandalladvocate.com), states “Do not engage. If there is a solid argument over a topic it is okay to reply. We will not all agree and most of the time will agree to disagree. In my opinion, the negative comments come from a place of hate. People like to hide behind their screen and personally attack - this is not okay. We all have the power to delete a comment - It is okay! It does not mean we are hiding away or trying to "step around" a sensitive subject. I like both sides to be respectful on my sites. So, for me I make the choice to not engage and so far I have not been retaliated against.”
BRACEWELL: It is far better to delete a tweet if you regret the post. Give credit to others, source of graphic, or point to another city’s success. Success of a post resonates more with positive posts about others.
MUSTAFA: I have several success stories. If it wasn’t for Facebook, I may not be spearheading Jackets for Homeless – Transforming a Life. Social media helped me win the Western District Secretary/Treasurer position and finally, there is no way I would have won the ITE International VP position without a social media presence.
ROW: You have to either be in social media or not. You can’t be effective halfway. Once “in,” I’ve had terrible experiences over-relying on automation. It’s too easy to stack up a pile of posts into Hootsuite and appear tone deaf when the posts don’t reflect current events. Some programs automatically pull content and that can result in useless information that isn’t helpful to anyone. We also find that it’s okay – good, actually – to let your authentic voice come through. Your posts should sound human like you.
SCHLICHTING: My biggest success on social media is when I post video, whether live video or videos posted on YouTube or a website. Users are reading less, so shorter posts that get right to the point are more impactful. This is a great way to show your personality and your passion for your business or cause.
BRACEWELL: The most successful posts are those that incorporate humor or cleverness, make someone smile as they read it and also a message, idea or thought that the reader wants to attach themselves to.
MUSTAFA: My posts are most successful if there is a pretty picture or a post about someone else doing something good.
SCHLICHTING: Sharing your story is a great way to show who you are and how your business can help others. Testimonials from your customers also highlight your business and how you have helped them succeed. Content that is authentic and shows your humanity will resonate with your followers and will attract new ones.
The Women of ITE would like to thank our contributors to this blog. We hope our readers connect with them through their social media links. Tag us in your posts about Women in Transportation, Diversity and Inclusion and ITE. #WomenofITE