About ITE

Women of ITE Sub-Committee

L-R: Lynn LaMunyon, Kristi Sebastian,
Karen Aspelin, Cathy Leong, Kirsten
Tynch, Jen Malzer, Alyssa Rodriguez

Who are we? The Women of ITE Sub-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.

Welcome to our Information Crusade

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

November 2020: STEM Outreach - Engaging Early Education

The demand of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) continues to increase around the world, preparing the next generation of STEM workforce becomes crucial.  A recent article by the Cornell Chronicle[1] shows the percentage of high school seniors intend to major in STEM were 13% and 26% for female and male, respectively.  The article also stated, “efforts to reduce gender differences in STEM outcomes need to begin much earlier in students’ educational careers.”

Source: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/07/gender-gaps-stem-college-majors-emerge-high-school

To close the gender gap, STEM outreach engagement needs to happen between kindergarten to high school (K-12).  Educators and researchers have shared their observations in classrooms and ideas on how to close in the gap as listed below. 

Broaden the goals of STEM – every child learns differently.  Math and science are keys to STEM education, but it is also about “curiosity, observation, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication[2]”. 

Instead of having math and science strong students to pursuit STEM, we need to find out what the students are interested in doing and help them get there.  Research had shown “making the world a better place”[3] is a stronger motivator to girls than boy.  Parents and teachers can show female students how STEM can help them to the world a better place by applying math and science skills. 

Format

The article, Keeping Girls in STEM: 3 Barriers, 3 Solutions[4], referenced recent analyzes showing high school and middle school girls perform better overall in higher-level math than boys.  But performed lower on multiple-choice standardized test.  The analyzes concluded that girls perform better with open-ended answers test. 

This will require a systematic change to standardized tests.  Universities and colleges should look at students’ overall performance throughout their K-12 education than simply based on standardized tests.

Role model – female scientists, engineers and others in the STEM field are underrepresented.  According to a recent study by Microsoft[5], many girls and young women have a hard time picturing themselves in STEM roles and do not have a female role model in the STEM field.

If you are a female in the STEM field, volunteer to speak at K-12 schools or have a take your children to workday.  Here are sample organizations, which are actively involve on girl-focus STEM education:

  • GirlStarts [https://girlstart.org/]
  • NASA – Girls in STEM 2021 [https://www.nasa.gov/content/girls-in-stem-2021]
  • DiscoverE – Introduce A Girl To Engineering Day [http://www.discovere.org/our-programs/girl-day]
  • Micorsoft [https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/corporate-responsibility/skills-employability/girls-stem-computer-science]
  • TransportationYOU [https://www.transportationyou.org/]

If you are a parent with young girls, show them engineers, scientists can be girls and boys by reading them books about famous female scientists and engineers.  If you want to inspire young girls in your life to pursuit STEM, here is a list of recommended books: https://www.nbcnews.com/know-your-value/feature/10-awesome-books-young-girls-encourage-celebrate-stem-ncna1047826

To close the gender gap in STEM, we will need to work together, at homes, at schools and as professionals.  In the home, parents should encourage that their children, both girls and boys, can grow up to do anything that they want, while providing a wide range of opportunities for children to explore their interests. Schools should be based on female students’ ability in STEM on standardized multiple-choice tests.  As STEM professionals, we need to be role models to young girls.  Sign up be to a volunteer at outreach programs, we can show young girls how a STEM career can be fun and rewarding and let them ask questions about what we do.


[1] “Gender gaps in STEM college majors emerge in high school,” Cornell Chronicle, 1 July 2020. [Online]. Available: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/07/gender-gaps-stem-college-majors-emerge-high-school.

[2] “How To Get Young Girls Excited About A Career In STEM,” Forbes, 25 January 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.forbes.com/sites/biancabarratt/2019/01/25/how-to-get-young-girls-excited-about-a-career-in-stem/#687c9d595601.

[3] “Schools and Closing the Gender Gap Related to STEM,” UCLA.  [Online]. Available: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/gengap.pdf

[4] “Keeping Girls in STEM: 3 Barriers, 3 Solutions,” Edutopia, 12 March 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.edutopia.org/article/keeping-girls-stem-3-barriers-3-solutions

[5] “Why do girls lose interest in STEM? New research has some answers — and what we can do about it ,” Microsoft, 13 March 2018. [Online].  Available: https://news.microsoft.com/features/why-do-girls-lose-interest-in-stem-new-research-has-some-answers-and-what-we-can-do-about-it/

October 2020: Stop the Leaky Pipe

Yes, it is on odd title for a technical blog. It is the name taken from the Team Drano 2020 LeadershipITE class project. The idea surfaced during the group brainstorm session during the first retreat in January, in Washington D.C. Each team member knew of at least one person who left the transportation industry. The group wanted to determine if this was a coincidence or if there is truly a leak in the industry. If there are leaks, the team wanted to formulate tangible ways to slow or stop the leak.

The team developed a three part system of discovery as shown below:

Project Layout

ShouId I Stay or Should I Go?

By performing a three part investigation, the team discovered the combined reasons why individuals chose to leave the transportation industry. Below is the list:

  • obstacles for growth,
  • no reward or recognition for good work,
  • focus on retention early because over half the people in the survey considered leaving,
  • negative workplace climate,
  • lack of a support network at work; supportive colleagues, supervisors, and / or mentors,
  • No opportunities for formal or informal mentoring,
  • No work-life initiatives that are embedded in family supportive cultures.
  • One in four women who enter engineering left the profession after age thirty, compared to one in ten male engineers according to the Center for the Study of the Workplace.

It is important to note the survey revealed nearly 1 in every 2 respondents who have stayed in the profession have given serious consideration to leaving. As well, those who have considered leaving once are likely to have repeat considerations throughout their careers. From the survey results, this table was created:

There Is A Solution

From the literature review, the surveys and the focus group interviews, a collection of quotes was made. Team Drano discovered that having one or more mentors during a person’s career can address many of the reasons why individuals choose to leave or consider leaving the transportation industry.

  • “Helped provide me suitable direction at different times.  I've been fortunate to have more than one mentor.”
  • “Gives a model for what/where I want to go in the career. Also, someone I can contact for questions/issues.”
  • “Good source of guidance and a no-judgement sounding board for ideas.”
  • “Positively, inspired me to become more committed to my profession”
  • “Helpful to see issues from another perspective and validates feeling about real issues.”
  • “They have helped advocate for me to others and given me an introduction in circles where I wouldn't have otherwise even been aware.”
  • “It was encouraging during some difficult times in my career, and also helped me learn to stand up for myself in my career more.”
  • “Tremendously. Mentoring is an amazing opportunity to get folks engaged in their work and keep them in the industry.”
  • “Most of my mentor relationships are non-formal and/or with supervisors, so it's been helpful in terms of understanding the company structure. At a previous job, my mentor/supervisor was totally absent and not around after my second year, prompting me to leave the company. It is nice to have someone in senior management (from my company) look out for me and be my advocate - it's helped with raises, promotions. The relationship might be more impactful if it's with someone outside of my company.”
  • “Provides perspective and an alternative point of view with respect to career, work-life balance, doing technical work, etc.  Offers advice in challenging situations, advises on pitfalls.”
  • “When I was a young engineer out of school my mentor was a 40 year plus traffic engineer. Learning from him made me want to continue in the traffic engineering field and has made me strive to have as much of an impact on the profession as he did.”
  • I would encourage ITE, if they do not already do so, to reach out to home schoolers. There are many smart children who are homeschooled. Civil Engineering has so many specialties, ITE can make sure transportation is introduced to high school students and homeschool students.
  • Having a mentor would have helped
  • Mentors are for “life” (this can imply the length of time or the holistic nature of a mentor)
  • Every career should be marked with receiving from a mentor and giving to a mentee.
  • As the years went by, I stayed in touch with my first mentor. Your mentor does not always have to be someone you work with.
  • As a female I have been blessed. There have been numerous strong men and women who have helped me along the way. There have been times, I have been presented opportunities and I cannot always say who recommended me. I wish I could thank everybody who spoke up on my behalf when I did not realize it.
  • There was a woman, at the firm, who made a sincere effort to mentor me and added variety to my work. She could not be effective because my supervisor was higher on the organization chart than she was. She was never successful in pulling me into her group.
  • I did change companies to see if that would help. After some time, I observed a more senior woman. She worked hard but she never got exciting projects or never seemed to get respect from leadership. I did not want that for my career.

The work of Team Drano did uncover the leaks in the transportation industry, the leaks are larger for women, and mentorship is a good solution in slowing and even stopping the leak. Team Drano also learned that thoughts of leaving the industry can be reoccurring. This why mentorship throughout one’s career is important. Each stage of a career comes with new challenges especially when those career challenges are up against life choices.

The findings of this project confirm the findings presented in other blogs published by the Women of ITE, e.g. May 2019, October 2019, and August 2020. Team Drano wants to champion the results of the project to the District, Section, and Chapter levels of ITE. Team Drano presents their findings here in order provide support to women in transportation, strengthen the female talent pool of the transportation profession, and help the industry to not only provide mobility and safety for all transportation system users but to be a profession that provides a fulfilling experience for all who work in it.

Authors: Mahmood Shehata, Elisa Mitchell, Marvin Souza, Amy Jiang, John Habermann

For a detailed reading of the findings of Team Drano, you can access the final report and presentation from the LeadershipITE website:
https://www.ite.org/professional-and-career-development/leadershipite/2020-projects/

September 2020: Supporting Students

Back to school has never looked so different. COVID-19 brings about all kinds of challenges and opportunities. This fall, students are navigating new realities for learning. Recent grads are figuring out how to connect into the job market of today. The Women of ITE Sub-Committee is looking at how professionals can support students, the next generation of the transportation workforce.

We spoke to student chapter advisors, a student chapter president, and the creator of a new initiative seeking to pair job seekers with employers. Thank you to everyone who contributed their ideas and perspectives:

  • Katherine Lee [KL], President, Cal Poly ITE Student Chapter
  • Amy Wyman [AW], President, Oregon State University ITE Student Chapter
  • Priyanka Alluri [PA], Student Chapter Advisor, Florida International University
  • Rhonda Young [RY], Student Chapter Advisor, Gonzaga University
  • Nikhila Gunda [NG], Professional Advisor, University of Kansas Student Chapter
  • Kate Whitfield [KW], Creator of Career Connect

How different will back to school be this fall and what are changes are happening for your student chapter?
 

Katherine Lee 

School is starting off a bit different because most classes at Cal Poly will be offered only in a virtual format. Only about 12% of the 4,300 classes offered will be held in person. It is definitely weird to not be on campus for at least another quarter and not physically seeing our peers and our school faculty. Some key changes at our university would mainly be how the school and students adapt to the new normal and try to “normalize” our everyday school life in a virtual way. One big change that really affects students is on-campus housing. Complying to COVID-19 guidelines, the school has set their own criterions to ensure safety for all students living on campus. Another big change is not having our usual in-person events. Cal Poly is known for our Week of Welcome (WOW) events, where we typically spend a whole week prior to the first day of lecture bringing incoming students around the city to learn more about Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo. Unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, the university has shortened Welcome Week to only be 3 days long—all done virtually. It is sad to say that there are limits to virtuality, as much as we all enjoy the fun of going out and exploring, spending late nights out and meeting new people during and/or outside of WOW…it is very hard to host these kind of events in a virtual format.

Cal Poly ITE is expected to see some changes in membership recruitment and involvement because of the way the academic year is starting off. However, the student chapter officers have been working hard to bring more alternative events to our members in hopes of increasing membership and student involvement while also building a stronger community. One big difference for the student chapter would be the possibility of not hosting our quarterly social events that aims to further connect our student members to our faculty and professionals. Some of our social events include our usual SLO Transportation Mixer in the Fall, Alumni Night, and the Student Leadership Summit in the upcoming Winter.

Amy Wyman

 Oregon State University anticipates operating 90% remotely this fall. As of this week, OSU has prohibited students from engaging in gatherings in Oregon of more than 10 persons, whether on or off campus. OSU ITE anticipates hosting all or nearly all of our events virtually. Any in-person events we want to host will go through a university review and approval process and would, at the very least, include procedures like social distancing and face masks. In the past, we've engaged in a considerable amount of volunteer and transportation data collection work in our community. I think that will probably be on-hold for at least the upcoming term. However, I think there's a lot of opportunity in going virtual to collaborate with other student chapters on events. For example, just this week, a member of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez's ITE Student Chapter reached out to us about co-coordinating a virtual event. We couldn't be more thrilled. Our chapter is very interested in engaging with as many chapters as are interested, and we encourage them to reach out. This fall, we are planning to host professionals at virtual speaker meetings, hold virtual social events, and continue mentoring and discussion group programs virtually. We are planning to recruit virtually by asking faculty to allow us to speak about ITE in their remotely-delivered courses and advertise events via the weekly OSU ITE and Civil and Construction Engineering department newsletters.

The virtual platform, I think, also enables us to reach more people and provide more opportunities to our members. We will be able to talk about ITE in more classes because of remote delivery. Remote delivery of conferences and other transportation-related events like the ITE Western District Annual Meeting, PacTrans, and Student Leadership Summits will also enable more of our ITE members to attend. When these events were in-person, sending more than a few members was cost-prohibitive.

Prianka Alluri

The Fall semester is very different – what we are going through is unprecedented. No one has imagined this situation, and definitely not for this long. It has been almost six months since our university has switched to remote work. I have never gone this long without seeing my students. I haven’t met with them in person since March 15th!

This fall, our university looks deserted. The hallways, classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, bookstores, the entire campus for that matter, is empty. Most of the courses are switched to remote instruction. I am teaching online via Zoom. Even though video conferencing is as close as we could get to being normal, it cannot replace face-to-face teaching. I believe that the students learn so much in an in-person setting; I am afraid that the students may not gain as much in a remote teaching environment. However, I understand that it is what it is, and we are all doing our best, considering the circumstances. The one thing I have observed at our university is resilience. Our students and the faculty have adapted to the “new normal” almost overnight.

All I have seen is compassion, empathy, resilience, and understanding. Working from home (and teaching from home) when you have toddlers and pets is not easy. All my students, faculty, colleagues, and staff are so accommodating and empathetic as they understand each others’ struggles. I found the feeling of “we are in this together… and we will get through this together” is quite evident and is reflected in the actions and gestures. I believe that this pandemic has changed us forever. One of the silver lining is that it has brought us together and made us more aware of each others’ day-to-day struggles.

Our ITE Student Chapter is one of the most active chapters in the country; we are a close group of students to work and play together – have several social and fun events – and just try to make the best with the time and resources that we have. Now, with this pandemic and social distancing, our chapter had to adapt – almost overnight, just like all other chapters. We have monthly virtual check-ins just to see how everyone is doing, and just talk about anything - just to remind everyone that we are there for each other. Next week, we are going to have elections online – that is going to be interesting. We are also going to have guest lectures via zoom. We are thinking of having some sort of online fundraising events and also virtual TMC tours. We are excited about the virtual traffic bowl and are looking forward to participating. Since travel is not an option (at least this fall), we are planning to invite high-profile speakers from across the country to speak to our students.
 

Rhonda Young

Gonzaga University is doing a hybrid model where students can either work fully remote or come in-person. Most students have chosen to come back in-person. Even though that is the case, the student chapter will be switching to host more online meetings and events. This provides a great opportunity for the student chapter to feature non-local speakers and connect students with professionals from anywhere. Even local speakers may find the online format easier to participate.

Gonzaga University encourages students to focus on social justice issues throughout all components of their education. The student chapter plans to discuss and explore many of today’s critical issues – including how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted transportation and travel behaviors.

Nikhila Gunda

The school would definitely be very different from what it was before. Personally, I would say a huge difference is found in the people's behaviour and consciousness of their presence and surroundings, changes in the class schedule format, new experiences like virtual teachings and meetings, limitations on gatherings and so on. Along with these differences, other key changes at the school include responsible and limited access to the school buildings with an app called CVKey, frequent cleaning and sanitations of common spaces, combination of online and in-person classroom style settings and many other common practices which ensures the safety of the people on campus. The KU-ITE student chapter has definitely faced and will face some difficulties like conducting in-person ITE guest speaker sessions and meetings, attending ITE conferences, hosting event competitions and sessions at the school and etc. Currently, our student chapter is in the process of transitioning all traditional in-person activities to virtual along with the addition of some new programs to make it more interactive and creative. These new tasks are definitely requiring chapter officers and students to work harder and be more smart and creative than usual as it's a first time for everyone to explore and use this untapped territory of technology as normal in our daily lives.
 

How can professionals best support students and student chapters?
 

Katherine Lee

The best support we get from professionals are sponsorship or involvement in the student chapter’s events. Their involvement shows encouragement, motivation, and inspiration our student members. Cal Poly ITE has a huge alumni network who continuously give back to our student chapter. When we ask our alumnus why they continue to give back or stay involved with our student chapter, most of the answers are very similar: because of the connections and resources that Cal Poly ITE provided to them during their time as a student. One big way professionals support student chapters is through sponsorship. Cal Poly ITE is known throughout Western District to bring the most student attendees to the Annual Meetings. We see value in students attending these conferences because it gives students the opportunity to network and connect with other student leaders and professionals. Each year we plan to bring more students to the annual meeting, if possible. This goal is achieved through the help of our sponsors.

Another way we get support from our professionals are though social events, which are something that may not be possible for the upcoming academic year. Our social events are held locally and are a great way for students to connect with professionals. Making sure to include all our professionals, we usually host the SLO Transportation Mixer in the Fall for our local professionals, the Alumni Night in the Winter for our fantastic alumni community, and co-hosting a joint Central Coast Section Meeting in the Spring where we have professionals from our Central Coast ITE Section. None of the activities, events, general meetings, etc., could have happened without the continuous support from our alumnus and professionals.

 

Amy Wyman

Just this past spring term, OSU ITE started a mentoring program to help connect our members with professionals, graduate students, or upper-level undergraduate students. We also frequently host professionals at speaker meetings to talk on various topics, such as their career, projects they've worked on, and the agency or company they work for. These programs have been very valuable for linking professionals and students and we are so happy when professionals want to get involved with these programs. Our members who attended the Student Leadership Summit (SLS) last year also really enjoyed connecting with professionals through SLS--in particular, through resume reviews and mock interviews.

Ultimately, I think it would be great if student chapters had a common platform through ITE that made it easy to contact each other, collaborate, share event information, and connect with professionals. 

Piryanka Alluri

There are several ways in which professionals can support student chapters. Here are some:

  • Giving guest lectures on both technical and soft skills.
  • Participating in career fair, conducting mock interviews, critiquing resumes.
  • Mentoring. For example, pledge to mentor one student every year.
  • Help the students with networking (connect the students with other professionals).
  • Volunteering as judges for class projects.
  • Inviting 1-2 students to shadow them at work.
  • Our students are always looking for industry advisors as they participate in several competitions such as the ITE Micromobility challenge, NOCoE’s Transportation Technology Tournament, ATSSA’s Traffic Control Device Challenge, among others.
  • Help with their presentation skills – sit with them and review their slides and presentation prior to their presentations at conferences (e.g., ITE district meetings, etc.).
  • Sponsorship. Companies can support student travel to the conferences, or food during the guest speaker events, etc.
Rhonda Young

Professionals can participate in online student chapter events. COVID-19 presents a great opportunity for virtual participation. Touchpoints between professionals and students do not have to be big events; even small touchpoints and connections are valuable. Virtual events can have short presentation from professionals; it is easy for people to give 15 minutes of their time and it is easy to structure events like this if they are happening virtually.

Sometimes there can be a lot of pressure in mentorship matchmaking. You do not know if the connection will be right between a mentor and a mentee. Instead, we have organized fun technical events where professionals and students work together. We have held pop-up tactical urbanism workshops where students and professionals work together to set up an installation. This format takes the pressure off and allows for mentorship to happen organically. We have also held rafting trips as part of course work and invited practicing engineers to come and offer insights on technical issues along the river. This has been beneficial for students, who get to hear from people in industry. Field trips do not just have to be for students! Professionals have really enjoyed participating in field trips and meeting students in this format.

Professionals should feel free to reach out to student chapters to see how they can support and get involved.

Nikhila Gunde

 I think professionals can best support student chapters by actively participating and encouraging students to explore new ways and methods of learning through technology. They could start by organizing some interactive and learning programs and events virtually.  At the level of the student chapter, ITE activities and events have always been in-person unlike professionals who use virtual methods in their work life very often even before this pandemic. So, the current situation has a big impact on students more than professionals and they need all the help that professionals can provide. KU-ITE student chapter has not started anything yet as the school had just begun but we do have plans to start a mentor program that connects one or group of students to a transportation professional and learn from them, plans for hosting virtual career fair in the spring semester, an initiative of publishing a monthly edition which includes resources and news related to transportation around the world, and virtual guest speaker sessions. Everything is still under discussion and planning stages.

My role with the student chapter is unique. I'm a recent summer graduate from the University of Kansas and was very involved in the student chapter when I was a student. I was fortunate to have found a full-time job at the university as an Assistant Transit Researcher which helped me to stay involved with ITE activities just like when I was a student. Then, our student chapter faculty advisor, Dr. Schrock, and I decided to create a new role called 'Professional Advisor' which would help the student chapter to get more actively involved in ITE activities and events and make ITE resources more accessible to all the students. In this way, I continue to be a part of both my school chapter and as an ITE member.
 

Kate Whitfield

ITE student chapters are an important part of networking and community building. The fact that the ability to offer more typical in-person meetings are limited right now is yet another reason behind why we needed a virtual networking initiative, like Career Connect. There are a lot of webinars on offer right now and while valuable they do not necessarily offer an opportunity for people seeking jobs to connect with others.

 

 

August 2020: Lending Your Voice is Easy

All around the world, people are talking about the importance of gender equality. This month, the Women of ITE are sharing ten internet examples of quotes, campaigns, memes and tweets to show it can be easy, effective and even collaborative to engage. Please take a moment to consider the ways your voice might motivate, educate, or bring friends together in discussion. When we overcome gender bias, we all benefit. Commit to starting the conversation and make a difference!

"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens."
-Michelle Obama, Summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, 2014

July 2020Why Cycling Fits Women’s Mobility Needs and What Is Needed to Unlock the Potential

In the Netherlands, where I am from, talking about the differences between the levels of cycling or cycling experiences for men and women is uncommon. Cycling is something many people simply do without much thought. Whether done on a daily basis or just occasionally, people cycling for many different purposes, many considering it ‘hassle-free’. Of course transportation professionals in the Netherlands, on the other hand, do talk about cycling, and work on facilitating and stimulating bicycle use. With 27% of all trips made by bicycle it can’t be avoided, even if you wanted to. Interestingly, the conversations and projects carried out by professionals do not consciously take into account gendered cycling patterns or needs. Still, statistics show that some good things are happening when it comes to women and cycling.

Women on Bikes

In the Netherlands, we have what you could call a reverse gender gap in cycling. Almost everywhere around the globe, cycling is dominated by men. In the Netherlands however, the cycling modal share for women in 2017 was 28% while for men it was 26%. Out of 10 bike trips made, 5.5 trips are made by women.

We also have a reverse age gap. In most countries cycling is dominated by male adults aged 25 to 55. In the Netherlands the cycling modal share for this group is the lowest with 20% of the trips done by bike. The youngsters aged 12 to 18 are the true Dutch cycling heroes–boys as well as girls. Their cycling modal share is over 55%, cycling on average 26 minutes per day, compared to the national average of 12 minutes per day.

Furthermore, the 65-75 year age group has a higher cycling modal share compared to all other adult age groups and they cycle 2 minutes more per day, compared to the national average. The technical developments around electric assist bicycles* have contributed to the e-bike revolution we see today, and the 65+ age group, especially the women, were the early adopters. Back in 1985 the bicycle modal share for 65+ women was 14%, by 2017 it was over 26%.

Some people belief that women in the Netherlands have a special DNA, or that we cycle because the country is flat and it never rains. Of course, the relative flatness makes cycling easier, but it does rain (and even snow every now and then) in the Netherlands and up to now, no cycling DNA has been identified. What else is going on then?

Women’s Mobility Patterns

In the Western world women’s mobility patterns are characterised by multiple, short trips and trip chaining. They also tend to make more non-work trips compared to men, often times accompanied by children. Men, on the other hand, take less trips but travel further distances. Furthermore, men tend to travel more by car compared to women, whereas women use public transport to a larger extent and walk more.

Photo Credit: Mobycon

The characteristics ‘multiple short trips’ and ‘trip chaining’ are relevant when it comes to cycling. Take a moment and think about it: isn’t cycling perfectly suited to make short trips and to trip chain? Cycling allows you to combine your roles in your family, at work and in your community. It offers flexible, low cost transportation. Which is relevant, since it is still the case that women earn less compared to men. If you can save on road tax, insurance and gasoline, there is more left that you can use for family expenses!

It makes you wonder why women in countries like Canada, the US and the UK do not cycle more?

Women’s Cycling Mobility Needs

A number of studies and articles have been written about what women’s needs are, when it comes to cycling for transportation. These needs are:

  • Safety:
    • streets should be safe for people on bikes
    • public space should be considered socially safe, also in evenings or in more deserted locations
  • A positive image:
    • cycling should not be considered an inherently dangerous activity (which may be suitable for reckless men, but not for women)
    • cycling should be acknowledged as a suitable mode of urban transportation, not just for sport
  • Photo Credit: Mobycon
    Hassle-free:
    • easy access to bicycles in all shapes, sizes and colours (not everyone wants a carbon racing bike)
    • easy access to bicycle accessories like panniers, mudguards, and dress guard (better yet, bicycles that come already fully accessorized)
    • easy access to child seats, shopping trailers and dog trailers, and cargo bikes 
  • Proximity:
    • spatial planning can contribute to making more destinations (like schools and shops) within reach for cycling trips
  • Space for practicing in the streets:
    • children who learn to cycle in playgrounds and quiet streets from a young age onwards, should be accommodated to cycle in the streets with their parents to learn about what to anticipate in traffic
    • adults who have not had the opportunity before (most of whom are women), should have the opportunity to learn to cycle

So, how can this become a reality in the years to come?

Unlocking the Cycling Potential

Photo Credit: Mobycon

The cycling potential currently ‘hidden’ in the short trips and trip chains that women make can be unlocked by using an integrated approach, combining a mix of measures. Together, they would address different aspects of the cycling mobility needs as listed above. Of course, making streets safer for cyclists is an important piece of the puzzle, but certainly not on its own. Moreover, there are many discussions about what safe cycling infrastructure is, and this has close links with the image of cycling (is it a sports or for utility cycling?) and with whether or not you bring need to carry your children and purchases with you (different style of bicycle, different size, manoeuvrability etc.). Also, the location of the bicycle infrastructure to be implemented is important. Is it in the city centre to accommodate commuters on bicycles? Or is it in the neighbourhoods, so that children can go to school by bicycle and parents (mothers) no longer need to chauffeur them in a car?

To get to a place where trips to school and kindergarten by bicycle are hassle-free, access to suitable bikes and accessories is key. A growing number of cities and NGO’s have been experimenting with programs such as ‘bicycle libraries’ and borrowing schemes. This also contributes to a more positive image of cycling, showing what is possible rather than focussing on the dangers of cycling.

When thinking about the effect that more bicycle-friendly spatial planning practices may have, it should be taken into account that these will not be seen soon. That being said, however, it is far better to begin working on it now rather than tomorrow. As the Chinese proverb says: ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago’.

*Electric assist bicycles are bicycles that have a battery that assists pedaling up to 25km/hour – once you go faster the electric assist stops.

Author: Angela van der Kloof, Mobycon   

June 2020: Mental Load

Due to COVID-19, the school district has decided to permanently move towards e-learning.” My palms started to sweat, my heart skipped a beat and I tried to take a deep breath in. I felt as though my brain short circuited for a split second or two. So much change in such little time, all my planning skills were definitely put to the test and I felt like my “system” was completely overloaded. Sure, I had a “Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and Plan D.” But, who plans for a “Plan Z”? Working, keeping the family safe and healthy, getting masks, going to the supermarket, being active, managing work staff, finding work solutions through this pandemic, checking on family, checking on friends, attending zoom meetings, arranging backgrounds for zoom meetings, finding out what will happen with doctor appointments, dentist appointments, camps and extracurricular classes that were already paid for, and now - homeschooling. My mind started to go wild thinking about how I could manage such a hefty new task into my already hectic day-to-day activities. It has been through this pandemic that I have realized that the mental load I carry is HUGE. While the impacts of COVID-19 are unique for every family, I believe we can all agree that it has resulted in performing extra tasks that we did not do previously. But let’s take a step back, what is mental load? Who is affected by it and what can we do to help?

What is a ‘Mental Load’?

Mental load is referred to as the phenomenon that primary caregivers experience when they take care of the household/family management in addition to their daily jobs. “Sometimes called the “third shift”—following your first shift at work and the dinner-and-homework shift once you get home—it is the planning, scheduling, negotiating and problem-solving work that goes into running the business of your family. The mental load is the behind-the-scenes work that makes anyone in your family show up to anything (dentist appointments, volunteer shifts, play dates, child’s birthday party) on time, properly dressed and if necessary, with a gift in hand.” (Women Are Overburdened With Their Families’ “Mental Loads” by Jennifer Owens) Traditionally, this role has often been filled by women. However, I recognize that while this is the case in my household, there are other households where this is not necessarily the case. This article is written from my perspective as a mom, but no matter what the makeup of your family is, the lessons still apply because someone is always carrying the ‘mental load’.

As I started thinking about my ‘mental load’, I realized that in my head I have this constant ‘to-do list’ which I add onto, even when I’m trying to relax. Matter of fact, I think I have added “need to relax” as a to-do item in my list for years. I think about things like color-coding the family schedule, decluttering the linen closet, making sure I have full documentation on vaccines, refilling the hand soaps in all of our household bathrooms, etc. As I dove more and more into understanding this, I came across a book called “The Mental Load: A Feminist Comic by Emma.” This book hit close to home as it described the concept of “mental load” in a way in which it was easy for me to understand but most importantly, easy for others to understand as well. The book begins by describing a situation in which a mom is trying to cook a meal while trying to feed her kids. Overwhelmed, the mom explodes at the dad to which the dad basically responds, “you should have asked me to help.” See the comic here depicted on the right. "It's permanent and exhausting work. And it's invisible," says the mental load comic artist Emma. "When a man expects his partner to ask him to do things, he's viewing her as the manager of household chores.

As a full-time civil engineer home-schooling momma, I can relate SO MUCH with this mom. I can also relate with the frustration that you feel as a woman when someone says “you should have JUST asked me for help.” Seems trivial – I know – but sometimes it feels quicker to ‘just do’ then to have to guide someone through step by step instructions on completing a task that you know how to do well. It is as if you are the manager of everything and everyone, like a full-time job as a MANAGER. Let’s think about that for a second. Management is a whole career that most go to a 4-year university to become experts on. Most of us can agree that managing people is one of the – if not the hardest task –in a business. However, in a business, most managers have help in managing the business (hello assistant managers!) So, who helps primary caregivers with this mental load? How can primary caregivers get help? I know plenty of dads (especially you single dads out there…RESPECT!) that do help but unfortunately, research tells us this is not the norm. When we ask women to manage AND execute household tasks, most of the time, this results in women doing 75% of the work. So, what can be done to help? Keep reading below for some recommendations on helping those around you carrying a mental load.

HOW EMPLOYERS CAN HELP

  • Offer flexible work arrangements: This allows most couples to share the load as the flexibility allows both parents to take on household tasks when necessary. During this COVID-19 pandemic, many couples have used technology to get work done without having to be face-to-face at the office. This has resulted in an efficiency needed to complete tasks like home schooling.
  • Celebrate role models and dual-career couples: This should be true, regardless of gender. Celebrating male role models that take advantage of flexible work programs or paternity leave, can be instrumental.
  • Increase the support for all working parents: Many companies are helping by creating a parents' network for support. One of my favorite tasks I read about was that some HR departments are providing online resources that vet and list task support items for parents. Some of these included house cleaning, grocery delivery, laundry services, etc.  
  • Change consumers’ thinking about how couples can balance the load:  Do me a favor, please You Tube “Share the Load – Proctor and Gamble.” This is absolute genius. As a proud momma of a girl and a boy, these commercials bring tears to my eyes –  EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

HOW CAREGIVERS CAN HELP EACH OTHER

  • Quantify the problem and communicate openly: Research shows that men are helping out women with household and family chores. However, the coordination and management is still falling mostly on women. Tracking and communicating the amount of time spent in doing these items, will help.
  • Clarify roles and find the most efficient way to share the work: This should not be confused as identifying tasks to ‘delegate.’ Women need to be able to completely step away from a task.
  • Prioritize: Not everything can be perfect but when you work together, it can come close.
  • Share the Load and Find Help: As I wrote this, I felt somewhat guilty. Guilty, because I know that so many people have other much bigger problems in particular with this pandemic. Guilty, because I have help and I know others don't have that luxury. Yet, I realized that I needed to tell you this…..I asked for help and learned to let go. When it got to be too much, I asked for help. Help comes in different ways. You can hire help, you can create a support group with a group of friends or coworkers. It is OK to ask for help. It is OK for everything to not be perfect. It is OK to deviate from your plan. It is OK to let go of things. It is OK to share the load.

Resources:

May 2020: Gender and Being an Ally during COVID-19

We’ve all heard this pandemic knows no borders: COVID-19 is a global health crisis with far reaching impacts. But the nature of those impacts will be different depending on your age, family makeup, health status, where you live – and even your gender. This month’s blog shares gender insights on how to support and protect your personal and local communities during COVID-19.

Many are studying the COVID-19 impacts on women, including the United Nations who last month released a policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on women. Like other major emergencies, these impacts include:

  • Economic impacts compound for women who typically earn less, save less, hold insecure jobs, or live close to the poverty line;
  • Health impacts when health care resources and priorities are reallocated away from sexual and reproductive health services;
  • Increased requirements for unpaid care work as schools close and older family members need more assistance; and
  • Increases in gender-based violence as women are required to remain at home with their abusers  while supports may be disrupted or inaccessible.

HOW EMPLOYERS CAN SUPPORT WOMEN

  • Offer flexible work arrangements including:
    • Telecommuting even outside of the pandemic situation
    • Flexible hours make it easier for parents to work around other duties
    • Expecting more use of sick and vacation time
  • Child care will mean increased stress loads and may mean reduced hours for woking and additional costs
  • Talk about the importance of health care and link to your firm’s desired workplace culture
  • Remind colleagues of community or workplace emergency resources like counseling
  • Take the time to observe inequity and commit to onboarding gender-neutral strategies post-COVID-19

HOW  COLLEAGUES CAN SUPPORT WOMEN

  • Be understanding of the additional challenges faced by women
  • Be flexible
  • Listen while showing empathy and support
  • Fully explore your virtual tools to gain from the insights of a diverse team at work

HOW TRANSPORTATION PROFESSIONALS SUPPORT WOMEN  

  • Stay committed to designing accessible and inclusive transportation systems and learn about the disparities that exist between gender groups, including these trends:
    • Women perform more unpaid care work, which involves greater trip chaining
    • Transit service allocation is heavily weighted towards peak periods while women have greater off peak travel needs
    • Work with local police agencies and learn where customers feel unsafe taking public transit. Research has shown that women place a greater value on personal security than men and demonstrate more extreme changes in travel behaviour in response to this fear. Incorporating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design practices is one way we can address this issue as transportation professionals. You can read more about both these topics in some past blog posts.
  • Add Gender Based Analysis to the work you do and help clients see the added benefits of delivering projects for all
  • If you are able, donate to women’s shelters and local food banks to respond to the greater need during this pandemic

SUPPORTING MEN

Review of the worldwide data shows that men may have a lower survival rate than do women when it comes to COVID-19. Take the time to learn about symptoms and the advice of your local medical experts on when friends, colleagues and family members should seek help. Men are traditionally less likely to seek help, so listen for warning signs and check in regularly.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Forbes: A gender lens on COVID-19

Why we need female leaders during COVID-19

Why women make great leaders during COVID-19

Lancelet: “Policies and public health efforts have not addressed the gendered impacts of disease outbreaks”

COVID-19: the gendered impacts of the outbreak

COVID-19 has greater impact on women advocates say

COVID-19 and Women's Economic Empowerment - World

April 2020: Succession Planning

Succession planning is a strategy. It requires intentional thought, communication, training, and collaboration. Because of the time involved, it can feel like an overwhelming process and burden. Training people takes time. Training people to do your job can be threatening. But what happens when there too few opportunities to advance, or you don’t want a change, or you are thinking about retiring? The perception that career trajectories only go up with seniority creates undue pressure and barriers to succession planning.

With the complexity of emotions and feelings surrounding transition planning, it becomes more complicated when you add the layer of historical underrepresentation of women in leadership roles. Some ideas to consider in the process are noted below:

Aspects of Transitions and Leaders

  • Start early – be deliberate. Change in an organization breeds opportunity no matter the unknowns. This can start with transitioning core analysis tasks to entry staff and can continue with project management-focused roles to more advanced organizational roles.
  • Encourage staff to begin to understand how to take risks and use judgement early. The act of moving toward an uncertain outcome is a developed skill. Learning to deal with failure is better experienced earlier in your career rather than later.
  • Treat succession planning as a part of every position.  From being a “doer” to developing strategy, each step involves delegation, on-going communication,  relinquishing, and leadership. These are the essential succession skills to develop.
  • Determining where you want to be not where aspirations for a title tell you to be.  Gaining a sense of leadership purpose rather than simply a stepping-stone. Read as much as you can on leadership, self-assessment, and self-awareness. Have a sense of purpose and clear guiding principles for your career – things like understanding where your career fits within the purpose of our industry and within society’s goals as well as being a trusted client advisor.
  • Focus on the future – your future. Not the past or what has or has not been done. Opportunities exist going forward.
  • Outside help is good.  Coaching, leadership development, salary surveys, and diversity/self-awareness training all provide tools of a good succession process.
  • Consciously engage all demographics in hiring and promoting, creating opportunities for everyone to learn and advance.
  • Every 7-10 years is probably time for a change – research shows this for CEOs. This applies equally to other management positions. Establishing incremental ways to expand leadership within an organization, beyond doer and president.
  • Listening. Avoid the pitfalls of a fixed mindset which leads to cronyism and fewer opportunities for others to grow within the organization.

Organizational Considerations in Succession for Women

  • Developing women – training, conferences, professional development, leadership training – particularly confidence building. Consider sponsorship programs/ally for historically underrepresented groups in your organization – create the motivation to lead. Don’t sit back waiting for a perfect woman leader to appear
  • For organizations that have historically not had women in leadership, develop fostering relationships with partner firms that do to help guide your employees toward career opportunities.
  • Particularly when there has been a legacy of prior leadership of one gender, explore what leadership and talent can look like when it may be different as part of the succession process. The core of effective leadership includes performing well in a variety of assignments, seeing the big picture, being self-motivated, facilitating problem solving – these are gender neutral.
  • Do not equate more hours to greater performance. This is a leadership barrier not only to women but to many men.
  • Understand that building trust in relationships, delivering expert services, and expanding networks is valuable to succession. Cronyism from the old boy’s club is not sustainable in an opportunity-driven world and is a barrier to all.

Successful succession planning takes conscious and on-going investments of energy, time, and financial resources to identify and develop leaders at key positions in an organization. For people exploring leadership roles, they must invest in diversifying their assignments, building networks, taking organizational ownership personally, developing complete perspective or context of issues, in addition to listening, solving problems, and expanding their negotiation skills.

March 2020: Each for Equal – Transgender Inclusion on International Women’s Day 2020

International Women's Day 2020 centers on the hashtag #EachforEqual. Celebrated around the world on March 8, it asks us to think about how we can help forge a gender equal world. To celebrate women's achievement. To raise awareness against bias. To take action for equality.

As we prepare for this important day to celebrate, raise awareness, and take action; we mustn't forget to reflect on and raise awareness for the unique challenges and biases faced by the transgender community.

A 2017 Center for Disease Control and Prevention study highlights some hard to digest statistics that frame the challenges that this community faces. Following a survey of more than 130,000 students in ten US states and nine large school districts, an analysis was conducted on the correlation between self-identified trans youth and various forms of violence victimization and suicide risk. The results of this study indicate that 35% of transgender youth had attempted suicide in the past year, 44% had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 53% felt sad or hopeless for two weeks or more in the past year.

Faced with these statistics, it is important to ask what actions we might take as transportation professionals in the face of challenges that the transgender community faces.

Transgender Inclusion and the Transportation Community

As transportation professionals, we are in a unique position to shape the way different people move around their communities, and how we can influence the comfort and discomfort they experience as they do so. Building on a past blog post relating to the experiences and challenges women face on public transit systems, we can seek to explore, with empathy, how transgender women might uniquely experience a transportation project we are involved with. This might include such questions as:

  • How might a vulnerable person travel along this corridor?
  • What is the experience someone might have during low light conditions in this area?
  • How might we enable a sense of comfort and activity?

During a 2019 Complete Streets Workshop in Calgary, Alberta, hosted by the Southern Alberta CITE Chapter, participants were asked to consider how different users would change their travel patterns with the introduction of a new Light Rail Transit (LRT) line in the city, The Green Line. Personas were established to represent a diverse range of the city's population, with a detailed characterization of their perceptions, challenges, and desires for a transportation experience. Participants organized into small groups, and were asked to provide recommendations on how the transportation journeys could be improved from the perspective of a particular persona.

Details on one of the personas shared was as follows:

Angie is a young professional who takes the Green Line from her apartment in Highland Park to her office downtown where she works as an accountant. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she travels to 16 Avenue after work where she volunteers with a local non-profit supporting trans youth. She is also transgender, and despite a successful career and many close friendships, she still carries fear of intense bullying she experienced after coming out as transgender in high school. She wants to use the Green Line every day of the week, but doesn't feel comfortable walking from the non-profit to the 16 Avenue Green Line Station after her volunteer shifts, so she ends up driving on those days.

By drawing on the fictional persona for Angie, rich and meaningful conversations were possible to unfold from transportation professionals considering how to change the travel environment to be more comfortable for someone like Angie. This is a simple tool that can help us, as transportation professionals, uncover biases that we might carry about the transportation experience for different people. It also offers a powerful space for us to take action in our transportation work for gender equality.

Action for Transgender Inclusion

As you reflect on other actions to take and habits to form in celebration of this year's International Women's Day, consider what you can do to help steward inclusion for transgender women in the transportation profession. Here are some easy-to-take actions to consider:

  • Share your pronouns. The act of all people sharing their preferred pronouns is a way of fostering safer spaces for transgender people. It facilitates the opportunity for colleagues to share their preferred pronouns that might not match the gender they were assigned at birth. This can be done at the start of meetings by inviting everyone to share their preferred pronouns, and explaining why that is important. It can also be done by adding preferred pronouns to your email signature, business card, or name tag at events.
  • Learn more to strengthen empathy. There are wonderful resources available to learn more about the diverse experiences, challenges, and successes of the transgender community. Reading books, watching films, and attending events or seminars to learn more is a helpful manner to strengthen your empathy and uncover your own biases.
  • Be supportive, open, and encouraging. Everyone's inclusion journey looks different, and it's important to forgive yourself and forgive others as we make mistakes, learn, and grow along the way. Inclusion for transgender folks is not about enforcing rules and policing words, it is about fostering a supportive and open environment where we can learn to welcome our colleagues just as they are.

Happy International Women’s Day 2020!

References:

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6803a3.htm

https://www.glaad.org/amp/beginners-guide-being-ally-to-trans-people

 

 

February 2020: Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt as though you can’t possibly measure up to the expectations of others? Or that any success you’ve experienced is simply due to luck or some kind of mistake? Perhaps you have recently set several challenging and unrealistic goals and experienced disappointment when you could not achieve them.

If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from impostor syndrome. As discussed in this short video, impostor syndrome impacts many people at least once in their lifetime, and well-known experts or prestigiously viewed individuals are no exception.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

The phrase impostor syndrome was first coined by Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes, to describe high achieving individuals who believe themselves to be phonies despite outstanding academic or professional accomplishments. Individuals suffering from this syndrome believe that their successes have come from luck or the mistakes of others, and that they have fooled anyone who believes them to be intelligent and capable. The article The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention presents initial investigation of the phenomenon, including origins of the syndrome related to early family dynamics and societal expectations, behaviors of those suffering from the syndrome, and therapeutic techniques which may be effective in combating the syndrome.

Some additional definitions of impostor syndrome presented following Dr. Pauline Clance’s initial research are included within this article written in 2011 by Jaruwan Sakulku and James Alexander. Other phrases describing similar phenomenon include perceived fraudulence and neurotic imposture. The correlation of traits such as neuroticism, conscientiousness, and perfectionism with impostor syndrome characteristics are also explored. A more recent study completed in 2015 also demonstrated the relationship between personality traits and impostor syndrome and explored the impact of impostor syndrome specifically in the workplace.

Who is impacted by Impostor Syndrome?

While impostor syndrome was originally thought to only impact high achieving women, subsequent research has shown that it impacts all genders, and people from all backgrounds in various academic or professional settings. Different individuals may be impacted by impostor syndrome in different ways, and research suggests that women may be more likely to be held back by feelings of impostorism.  

Dr. Valerie Young, an expert on impostor syndrome and author of the book titled “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It”, indicates that despite the title of her book, she has worked with many men who suffer from fear of being a fraud. Dr. Young provides seminars and workshops for various organizations about impostor syndrome and strategies for combating it, which are often attended by women and men in roughly equal numbers.

What strategies can be used to combat Impostor Syndrome?

Overcoming feelings of impostor syndrome may seem to be a daunting task initially, but the following strategies may be considered to work towards recognizing yourself as a competent individual:      

  • Acknowledge your thoughts and become aware of the phenomenon.
  • Educate yourself about impostor syndrome and recognize the magnitude of individuals who may experience similar feelings.
  • Reduce isolation and talk about how you are feeling with trusted individuals, perhaps even a professional psychologist.  
  • Accept and value constructive criticism.
  • Learn to acknowledge praise and compliments instead of dismissing them.

Additional tips for overcoming impostor syndrome can be found in these articles printed by Time and Psychology Today, as well as within the resources referenced above. 

January 2020: Gender Based Analysis

Bringing Gender Based Analysis into your work can help take you from caring about equity to truly becoming an ally. Gender Based Analysis (GBA) is a framework that can help you bring the right data and viewpoints into your decision making. GBA+ takes one giant step further and helps you view the world through many lenses. GBA+ recognizes that people experience the world as a result of not simply our gender. Rather, a term called intersectionality, reminds us that many of our characteristics affect how we are perceived and treated. Women may also be single-mothers, men may be more likely colour blind, and it is the intersection of many characteristics that need to be understood to hire the best candidates and design our best transportation networks. 

This month’s blog is a collection of research and approaches transportation professionals are applying to onboard GBA+ in their decision making. You can:

Review your own projects and practices: 

  • How is value engineering applied in your practice? Have you collected data on which user groups are most impacted?
  • Are there role models for everyone in your organization?  
  • Who attends your public engagement sessions? Are the times and venues suitable for those who will be most affected? How do you know?  
  • Do your Transportation Impact Assessments consider the needs of all modes and all ages and abilities? 

Adopt a strategy by learning from others: 

  • This Swedish video shows how gender mainstreaming helped them allocate budget to winter maintenance to help more residents
  • Vancouver, British Columbia has drafted a  Women’s Equity Strategy
  • Calgary Police Service screen their decisions through these questions: 
    • Who is affected by the issue? How are they affected?
    • Are certain groups potentially at a disadvantage?
    • Who has been consulted in developing the approach?
    • If you consider an issue to be ‘gender neutral’, can this be supported with evidence?

Learn about GBA and bias: 

  • Watch this short video that explains GBA from the perspective of a city
  • course on GBA+ from the Status of Women in Canada
  • Become aware of the many kinds of cognitive bias that complicate our decision making
  • Take this Harvard quiz to understand your own gender biases
  • Tilted podcast to support STEM efforts and to help your female colleagues to take smart risks that contribute to growing confidence
  • Explore thisinclusion toolkit

December 2019: Young Women in the Workforce

Starting your career is a big hurdle. Regardless of education or experience, being a young woman in the workforce presents its own special challenges. This blog post discusses strategies, tips, things to watch out for, and words of encouragement.

Before Accepting a Job Offer

The application process can be nerve-wracking for anyone. But for young women entering the workforce it can feel quite daunting “going up against” panels of primarily old white men. You may feel like there’s no way you’re qualified or confident enough. There are a few things you can do to make yourself feel more prepared.

  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

You only get one chance to get the salary/benefits package you want. Know your industry and how much your salary should be based on your experience level and education. Even if your starting offer is the amount you want, maybe you love to travel and want another few days or an additional week of vacation. Carnevale [1] provides some great advice on how to handle the salary expectation questions during an interview.

  • You don’t need to be 100% qualified to apply for a job.

Often, employers get overzealous with their wish lists for new employees. They never actually expect to find someone that can check off every box. So if you find a posting that you’re really interested in, go for it! One study showed that though women apply to fewer jobs than men, women are more likely to get hired for the jobs they do apply for [2]. The Harvard Business Review also had an article discussing why women don’t apply for jobs unless they feel 100% qualified. In contrast, on average men apply to jobs when they feel only 60% qualified!

  • You’re not alone in freaking out about interviews.

Talk to your peers and mentors about how they handled interview anxiety. One tip is to go to job fairs, conferences, and workshops and talk to employers you’re not necessarily interested in working for but treat the conversations as practice interviews. Get used to talking about your experiences, asking about companies, and generally being, if not relaxed, visibly calm and collected. Lowman [4] has five tips for looking confident in an interview. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of interview workshops!

  • Ask to talk to women already working at the company.

If you’re nervous to ask about female employees specifically, ask if you can talk to other young/new employees in general. This is one of the best ways to help you get a feel for the company’s environment, especially if you can talk to them without a supervisor present. If you aren’t introduced to any women and you don’t see any around, it may be a sign to keep in mind but don’t take it as a deal-breaker.

After Accepting a Job Offer

You got your first (or second, or third) job! Congrats! Now you have a new hurdle: staying afloat in a new and sometimes overwhelming environment. There are plenty of articles about how to succeed in your career, but one in particular by Rene Banglesdorf gives nine pieces of advice to young women specifically [5]. Listed below are six with some insight from my own experiences:

  • “Be eager to learn but don’t be a pushover.”

As a young, female faculty member, I’ve been warned that I will be asked to sit on numerous university committees and that I should NOT accept all or even any of them prior to getting tenure. While encouraging diversity on committees, panels, etc. is important, don’t let yourself become the token female and don’t let it impact your ability to do your job.

  • “Find other women to connect with.”

I’ve found a number of women in my department to ask about their experiences in their career, particularly in assessing department attitudes towards pregnancy and how to handle minor instances of sexism. I often feel more comfortable talking to them first, before my male supervisor.

  • “Stay away from comparisons.”

One thing I am still actively working on is learning to not compare myself to others. Your career will never be the same as anyone else’s. While having some examples to use as guides or gauges can be helpful, I’ve found that directly comparing myself often leads to unnecessary stress and anxiety.

  • “Play your own game.”

Similar to the last point, your career will be different from your peers’. Figure out what you want and pick and choose the opportunities that help you move towards that goal. For example, for many of my colleagues, applying for NSF grants is the gold standard. However, that does not align with my research and career goals so I shouldn’t expend as much, if any, effort in those applications.

  • “Learn to accept criticism.”

One tip I have often been told is to wait a few days before reading reviewer comments or critiques, especially if it comes with a rejection. Let yourself accept the existence of the critique first before diving into what can potentially be difficult comments. One thing I still struggle with is not taking critique personally, particularly from anonymous reviewers.

  • “Don’t stop learning.”

This may seem obvious but keep attending conferences, workshops, and seminars when possible. Not only will it help you keep up to date with the newest advancements, but it is also a great way to network! The best part is, as a young woman, your company will likely be incentivized to cover your travel to these events.

Lastly, don’t let yourself doubt how or why you got your position. If you feel like you haven’t accomplished much, list out all of the things you’ve done, from minor daily tasks to major awards. Sometimes, it helps to see everything listed on paper to remind yourself just how much you’ve done. And again, don’t compare your list to anyone else’s!

Encouraging Young Women

For young women to join and remain in the transportation workforce, it is important for others to encourage them. In this case, “others” can and should include other young women, older women, men, etc. in the profession. Below are some words of wisdom from some accomplished female members of ITE.

“Don’t try to do everything! I often overextend myself and feel that I sometimes do not give my best effort. I am still trying to learn to say no – and have found that I can more easily say, Not Now! Gives me time to reassess and prioritize.” – Marsha Anderson Bomar

“Don’t feel like you must overachieve or go it alone. There are plenty of mentors, official or unofficial, who are so willing to help guide young people. The tendency is to overlook the wisdom of the elders, but now that I am one, I can see what lies ahead. I also would encourage a more balanced life. Work-life balance is way too hard to do it without a support system. Most of all… ENJOY THE JOURNEY!!” – Jenny Grote

“I was often the quiet one at the table listening to all the different viewpoints and following my instincts to only raise my voice when necessary. I sometimes felt my voice wasn’t being heard or that I wasn’t contributing enough. I realized with time that in most instances, my role was to simply listen to all viewpoints and then form the direction to take. So I would say to my younger self - be confident in yourself, it is a long journey.” – Paula Flores

“Follow your instincts. Don’t let someone else talk you into staying in a situation that isn’t working.” – Alyssa Rodriguez

Finally, we need to change the stereotype of transportation engineers and engineers in general. Studies and anecdotes alike have shown that young women are more likely to choose and remain in engineering fields when they see role models that look like themselves. #ILookLikeAnEngineer [6] is a few years old but still relevant today. We encourage you to post a photo of yourself in your job, perhaps with #ILookLikeITE!

References

 

[1] R. Carnevale, "How to Answer Salary Expectations During an Interview," The Ladders, 12 November 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-to-answer-salary-expectations-during-an-interview.

[2] M. Ignatova, "New Report: Women Apply to Fewer Jobs than Men, But are More Likely to Get Hired," LinkedIn, 5 March 2019. [Online]. Available: https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/diversity/2019/how-women-find-jobs-gender-report.

[3] T. S. Mohr, "Why Women Don't Apply for Jobs Unless They're 100% Qualified," Harvard Business Review, 25 August 2014. [Online]. Available: https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified.

[4] E. Lowman, "5 Ways to Look Confident in an Interview (Even When You're Freaking Out)," The Muse, [Online]. Available: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-ways-to-look-confident-in-an-interview-even-when-youre-freaking-out.

[5] R. Banglesdorf, "9 Tips for Young Women Entering the Workforce," Vault, 17 May 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.vault.com/blogs/admit-one-vaults-mba-law-school-and-college-blog/9-tips-for-young-women-entering-the-workforce.

[6] USA TODAY, "Female engineers fight stereotype with help of hashtag," 8 August 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG8gN3Fg9gE.

November 2019: MidCareer Tips

What does taking care of your career mean?

Taking care of your career may mean a number of things. For some women in STEM it may simply mean staying in the industry, but it may also mean balancing family, finding meaningful work and certainly might mean earning deserved opportunities.

Tips/Advice 

Here is a collection of general tips for midcareer women from “10 Best Career Moves for Women in their 30’s[1]. The list might give you ideas on where to focus your research or how to coach a colleague:

  1. Create an Action Plan
  2. Negotiate Your Pay
  3. Position Yourself for Advancement
  4. Brand Yourself
  5. Create Opportunities by Networking
  6. Find a Mentor
  7. Figure Out What Makes you Happy
  8. Advance Your Education
  9. Take More Risks
  10. Stop Being Your Own Worst Critic

Looking into more detail, much of the mid-career related research points towards finding help with your career; like Sally Blount from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University who stated that “Research shows that this is the time [Mid-career] when effective mentorship and sponsorship are critical, and a lack of good guidance increases the likelihood of a career exit for women.”[2]

Similarly, an interview by Joan Michelson, Rainia Washington, Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion at Lockheed Martin, stated there are three areas women should be focusing on in their mid-career: 1) Figuring out what “making a difference” means to you 2) “Do your values and the values in which you grew up really align with the company in which you work” 3) “3 C’s of leadership, which compose of Communication – Learn to communicate effectively (speaking and writing); Character – Follow through on what you say you’ll do, “operating with integrity and with honesty in everything”; and Courage – “Getting the information in order to challenge the status quo, for me,” Washington said, “has been extremely important.”[3]

A publication of Mineta Transportation Institute, “Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry” by Jodi Godfrey and Robert L. Bertini, shared similar findings such as mentoring, professional organization involvement, opportunities, and flexible work schedules to be crucial for women to remain in the transportation industry.[4]

Why Focusing on Mid-career Matters So Much

While it may not seem intuitive that women would leave STEM in their mid-careers, research shows they do in high numbers. According to the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) only 30 percent of the female students who graduate from engineering still work in the field 20 years later. 

There are different reasons as to why women leave the engineering profession during their mid-careers.  In the research titled, “Women’s Reasons for Leaving the Engineering Field” by Nadya A. Fouad, Wen-Hsin Chang, Min Wan and Romila Singh.  The authors found four (4) main reasons women left the engineering profession “work-family imbalance (16%), loss of interest in engineering work (12%), lack of opportunities for advancement (11%), and dislike of engineering tasks (9%).”[5]

In addition, according to a research by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2015, it shows that a greater percentage of women, not working in the STEM profession to tend to their families, as compare to man, shown in Table 1, below.[6] 

Table 1: Reasons for not working among scientists and engineers in 2015

Race, ethnicity, and sex

Family

Job not available

Layoff

Retired

White women

26.4

9.8

3.3

52.1

White men

5.8

9.2

7.3

75.0

Asian women

38.7

12.4

2.3

17.7

Asian men

3.9

18.0

13.6

39.5

URM women

24.3

18.6

7.8

36.1

URM men

11.5

22.6

11.1

55.2

URM=Underrepresented minority

Women continue in the engineering field are facing greater demands at work and at home concurrently in during their mid-career.   

 Resources

More suggestions for resources related to helping women who are mid-career are here:

Within ITE

Outside of ITE

TED Talks

 

October 2019: Family and Paternity Leave

I can't believe my son just turned 15.  It doesn't seem that long ago that my husband and I were bringing our little baby boy home from the hospital.  There was so much to enjoy, but also major decisions to be made. Who would watch our son after his arrival? What would we do when we both needed to return to work? These aren’t things you can just decide once your bundle of joy arrives.  My husband and I both worked full-time. He was a science teacher and I was a civil engineer. My employer provided maternity leave, but the only way my husband could take time off was to use the few days he was allocated for vacation and sick time (which isn’t much for teachers).  Many things have changed since 2004, but not much progress has been made in the US with respect to parental leave, especially for fathers. 

So what is parental or family leave?  In short, it is an employee benefit that includes maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. A 2016 Pew Research Study found that the US is the only country among those surveyed that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents.  The US does have several laws in place for paid parental leave, including the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  However, I didn’t realize under FMLA only about 60% of American workers are entitled to leave.  Some states have taken action and passed laws to address parental leave, such as New York State, California, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.  In addition, an increasing number of companies offer paid parental leave to parents.  

But what about dad specifically?  Paternity leave refers to a period of absence from work granted to a father after or shortly before the birth of his child.  In 2017, a Pew Research survey showed that about seven-in-ten Americans (69%) supported paid paternity leave.  Yet, a 2016 National Partnership for Women & Families report found that only 41 percent of America’s workforce have employers that provide paid paternity leave to some workers.  Only 9 percent work for employers that provide paid paternity leave for all workers. A lot of times, paternity leave is used as a perk for certain employees.  Still, some corporations are looking to offer more progressive leave options. For example, Netflix has allowed fathers to take unlimited leave during the first year of the child’s life after a child is born or adopted.  However, as noted by Adam Bulger, "Companies offering progressive paternity leave are the exception, not the rule."  

Let’s face it.  Times have changed.  The roles of moms and dads have converged.  Yet, according to a fact sheet provided by the National Partnership for Women and Families three out of four fathers (75%) in professional jobs took one week or less off from work after their most recent child was born. In addition, nearly 60% of low-income fathers took no paid time off.  Besides paternal leave availability, what stops fathers from taking leave after a child is born or adopted? The primary reason why fathers limit their time off is because it is important to them to be a financial provider. Other concerns include harassment, discrimination, mistreatment, and negative impact on career.  In other countries, including the more than 80 who do provide paternity leave, there is still a stigma to men actually accessing this benefit. Interesting partners are joining the scene, including dove soap who is surveying our Canadian friends to understand the barriers and inform what can be done. 

So why am I even discussing paternity leave?  A recent study from the University of Illinois and Seoul University found several benefits for fathers, mothers, and the family when fathers take even just a few days of paid leave.  More specifically, the fathers who took paid leave were found to have higher life and job satisfaction, which in turn led to increasing the mother’s satisfaction with their family relationship.  Karen Kramer, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois says “If we want to support families and their labor force outcomes, maybe a better way is to support the father ...By giving the father even just a few days of leave, there’s an effect on the couple for the long-term. That’s the important thing.”  The study also acknowledges the challenge of getting fathers to take paid paternity leave (even when it is offered) as oftentimes, fathers fear being penalized in some way. "We need to encourage fathers to take the leave and help them understand the positive effects for the children, the couple, and the labor force." says Karen Kramer.

At the end of the day, I guess what I want you to take away is that when a child is born or adopted, support for mothers and fathers is equally important.  I have learned over the years, that work will always be there (in some form or another). But my family will not. Children grow up way too fast! So what can you do?  Looks for ways to make changes at your work that support the family. Support your co-workers and their decisions. Come alongside them. After all, we are a community.  A community of transportation professionals that I have always felt like is my extended family.  

September 2019: Health Care Access Factors

Transportation affects public health in many ways, one of which is in providing access. People use the transportation system to get to appointments with doctors or specialists or travel to the hospital in an emergency. Women interface with this system in particular with their role as careers within the family – taking children to and from appointments, for instance – as well as with particular health needs such as maternity and childbirth. A 2017 study also found that women are more likely than men to delay preventative care or make other tradeoffs due to cost. Delayed care in emergencies or skipping preventative care leads to negative health outcomes, often among populations that are already underserved.

What is healthcare access?

Graphic from Non-Emergency Medical
Transportation Pathway to Better
Health Outcomes, Community
Catalyst Blog

There are many aspects to the ability to access health care. Penchansky and Thomas divided this into five categories:

  1. Availability – is there an adequate supply of healthcare facilities
  2. Accessibility – can potential clients physically access the facility, given transportation availability, travel time, and cost
  3. Accommodation – is the facility organized in a manner that clients can accept and utilize, e.g., appointment systems, hours of service, scheduling services
  4. Affordability – can clients afford to utilize the services, including insurance and co-pays
  5. Acceptability – are clients comfortable and satisfied with receiving services at the facility

The physical access part is the most relevant for transportation engineers, though availability also enters the picture from a planning perspective. The final three factors can explain why the nearest facility is not always the best option (or a possible option) for a patient.

What is the problem?

Low-income and rural residents often have a difficult time accessing care, due to either distance or cost of travel. This impacts health in both lacking proper preventative care and on survivability in emergency scenarios. A TCRP report found that in a given year, 3.6 million people in the United States are both deemed transportation-disadvantaged, and miss non-emergency health care because they don’t have a way to get there. This is a conservative estimate, and the population in this group is expected to grow.

Most of the research on women accessing care focuses on pre- and post-natal care and childbirth. Adequate prenatal care is strongly linked to a decline in infant mortality rates, and transportation has been shown to be a factor in accessing this care. In Haiti, a study found that poor road conditions significantly reduce the likelihood of a woman receiving prenatal care, and living far from a hospital made it less likely that the birth would be attended by trained medical personnel. A study in the Netherlands found that longer travel times to the hospital correlated with higher mortality risk.

In the United States, rural hospitals have been closing, further complicating access for residents. A study in Alabama (https://www.jabfm.org/content/31/4/542) compared access to a local OB practice in rural counties and found that local services resulted in improvement in the infant mortality rate. Rural counties often only have one or two providers, and travel to the next county over can be prohibitive, especially when one is relying on a ride from other people.

What can we do about it?

Providing Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) for low-income road users has been shown to be cost-effective in improving access to care. These results held for a variety of conditions, both preventative and chronic, in terms of decreasing cost of medical care and/or improving length and quality of life. Planning for the first and last mile may also improve access through regular transit service as well.

Source: SMART Columbus Webinar Presentation

The City of Columbus is running a Prenatal Trip Assistance pilot program as part of its Smart City Challenge award to improve outcomes in specific zip codes with high infant mortality rates. Their goal is to “understand how best to provide travel assistance to expectant women so lack of reliable transportation is no longer a barrier to receiving early and adequate prenatal care.” Part of the system is an app called Rides4Baby, inspired by Uber and Lyft, that allows women to easily schedule rides, receive reminders, and view the driver’s approach in real time.

Gaps in the current systems were identified in focus groups, including communication, rides not arriving on time, and lack of car seats for other kids. Women reported getting frustrated and not going to the doctor as a result. The program aims to streamline the process and provide women with information throughout, as well as communicate delays to the doctor’s office. The pilot is slated to go through the end of December, and ITE is hosting a free webinar on the project test plan on October 2nd .

Land use and planning can aid in increasing both the availability and accessibility of health care services. It’s an analogous problem to food deserts – places where residents cannot access fresh and healthy food options within a given radius – and often overlap with the same population. Health care access may benefit from the same solutions. In some cases, that can mean bringing care to the community instead, such as a mobile food market or a hearing clinic in a van.

Lack of transportation is only one barrier to health care access, but it is still an important one, and every barrier removed leads to a healthier populace. These issues also extend to other access problems, such as jobs, healthy food, and other amenities. It’s important for transportation professionals to look at the ways that people are using the system, and the gaps where people cannot make the trips they need to. New technologies and ways of providing transportation offer opportunities to expand access through the transportation system to vital goods and services.

References:

[1] Penchansky, R., and J. W. Thomas. The Concept of Access: Definition and Relationship to Consumer Satisfaction. Medical Care, Vol. 19, No. 2, 1981, pp. 127-140.

[2] Gage, A. J., and M. Guirlene Calixte. Effects of the physical accessibility of maternal health services on their use in rural Haiti. Popul Stud (Camb), Vol. 60, No. 3, 2006, pp. 271-288.

[3] Powell, J., C. Skinner, D. Lavender, D. Avery, and J. Leeper. Obstetric Care by Family Physicians and Infant Mortality in Rural Alabama. J Am Board Fam Med, Vol. 31, No. 4, 2018, pp. 542-549.

[4] Ravelli, A. C., K. J. Jager, M. H. de Groot, J. J. Erwich, G. C. Rijninks-van Driel, M. Tromp, M. Eskes, A. Abu-Hanna, and B. W. Mol. Travel time from home to hospital and adverse perinatal outcomes in women at term in the Netherlands. BJOG, Vol. 118, No. 4, 2011, pp. 457-465.

August 2019: Human Trafficking Awareness as Transportation Professionals

Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, commercial sex acts, or slavery. As of 2016, a study out of the United Nations’ International Labour Organization estimated that there are 4 million victims of sex trafficking globally. Many people may naively think that this is happening somewhere else, and not near them, but they are wrong. This is not a third world problem. This problem is happening right under our noses, in our own neighborhoods, every day.

Why Should We Care?

Human trafficking awareness is important to me, as a transportation professional, because I am aware that I have an opportunity to make a difference. I have the ability to save a victims life by simply being aware of what I see around me and reporting suspicious activity when I see it.

Human trafficking typically depends on transportation systems to operate – moving their victims “hidden in plain sight.” While human traffickers look for all opportunities to recruit, bus terminals, train stations, and airports are key places for victim identification and public awareness.  Human traffickers are counting on people not paying attention and not knowing the signs to look for or the questions to ask. There are a number of red flags, or indicators, which can help alert you to identify victims. If sharing this information helps just one person get rescued from human trafficking, then it has served a worthwhile purpose.

The Federal Transit Administration produced and released an educational video that is just over seven minutes long that is intended to raise awareness about human trafficking and point out the signs of potential human trafficking that may be present on public transportation systems.

How Can We Be Part of the Solution?

Elizabeth Connell, Steven Jones, Ph.D., and Javonda Williams, Ph.D. co authored an ITE Journal Article on “Human Trafficking and the Transportation Profession” where transportation professionals are called to action to educate ourselves, and our colleagues, through training and outreach efforts, advanced technology applications and innovative data analytics. As transportation professionals, we can use the opportunities that our profession affords us to identify and reduce human trafficking in our communities. 

Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking is a U.S. DOT initiative that is comprised of transportation stakeholders working together to combat human trafficking by focusing on industry leadership, industry training and education, policy development, public awareness, and information sharing and analysis.

“TLAHT offers a variety of resources, including a transportation leaders pledge, counter-trafficking strategies, training resources, and public awareness materials.  Contact us to become a partner and join other transportation stakeholders across the U.S. through this collaborative effort.”

Sector-Specific Messaging Key to Fighting Human Trafficking

“Mode-specific training should be niche-specific, while public awareness campaigns should have a universal message. Specific messaging for a specific sector is key,” Kendis Paris, executive director of Truckers Against Trafficking said. “What a school bus driver’s going to see is very different from what a truck driver’s going to see.”

Traffickers take advantage of a large influx of people, like those attending a Super Bowl, to solicit illegal services. Gregory Nevano, assistant director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, said that his team found 1,560 potential clients through undercover ads targeting people who responded to traffickers’ solicitations during the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis.” 

Slavery in the 21st Century” is an article that highlights the successes of tailored training in the airline industry. The Blue Light Initiative is one component of the Department of Homeland Security’s campaign to train aviation personal to identify potential traffickers and human trafficking victims, and to report their suspicions to federal law enforcement. 

Some telltale signs of a human trafficking victim include a passenger who is:

  • not in control of his or her travel documents.
  • edgy or frightened.
  • bruised on his or her body.
  • being controlled by a fellow passenger.
  • unsure of his or her final destination.

To report suspected human trafficking in the United States, call 1-866-347-2423. To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, dial 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).

The Michigan State Police released a YouTube video to raise awareness on human trafficking as well, which is truly eye-opening to reveal how much you miss, even when you think you are paying attention.

By focusing education efforts on awareness and reporting options, we may be able to save a life. APTA also has some links to various successful initiatives

Examples of Global Public Awareness Campaigns on Human Trafficking

Blue Blindfold Campaign in Ireland.

Look Beneath the Surface in the United States.

Blue Heart Campaign (La campagne Cœur Bleu) launched by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC).

Open Your Eyes to Human Trafficking produced by the UNGIFT.

Here, You Have Rights (Ici, vous avez des droits) poster in Canada by the RCMP.

The Stop the Traffik Campaign is a global movement of individuals, communities, and organizations that work to prevent human trafficking worldwide through a wide variety of initiatives and awareness-raising projects.

The TruckSTOP Campaign (La campagne TruckSTOP) provides frequent travelers and truck drivers with the knowledge they need to identify suspected cases of human trafficking while informing local law enforcement.

The Girls in Red Light District video highlights the reality of false promises made to women of a dance career in Western Europe as part of the Stop the Traffik global campaign.

The Government of Canada’s Don’t Become a Victim of the Illegal Trade in Canada brochure campaign offers citizens and immigrants tips and resources to avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking in Canada.

Insightful Interview with Polly Hanson

Polly Hanson, Director of Security
and Emergency Management,
APTA

We asked Polly Hanson, Director of Security and Emergency Management at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) some questions about why we should learn about human trafficking awareness, and what we can do about it as transportation professionals.

Ms. Hanson has an impressive background in transportation security having served as the Assistant General Manager of WMATA, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, The Director of Law Enforcement and Security at the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Chief of Police at Amtrak prior to her current role at APTA.

Q1. Why should transportation professionals want to learn about human trafficking?

Many cities use special events like the Super Bowl to focus on Human Trafficking and because transit is used to get to those kinds of special events transportation agencies participate is public awareness campaigns. Human Trafficking is an everyday occurrence and traffickers use all modes of transportation to move and meet victims. Transit’s large passenger numbers, anonymity and low costs make it attractive to traffickers.

Q2. What can we do, as transportation professionals, to combat this critical issue in society?

Providing awareness training to employees, especially these in the field, driving buses, operating trains, collecting fares and cleaning facilities is an important way to combat this critical issue. While I was the Chief of the Amtrak Police, we trained all 20,000 Amtrak employees and used January, Human Trafficking Awareness Month to refresh that awareness training. Those efforts did result in aid being provided to victims of human trafficking and the identification of human traffickers.

Q3. What resources can you share with us that may help us become more aware of the warning signs of human trafficking?

At Amtrak we participated in the Blue Campaign but an agency can partner with DOT or local law enforcement to provide awareness training to employees.

July 2019: Taking Public Transit as a Woman

Gender Differences in Travel Behavior

Source: Gendered Innovations
Image by Erik Steiner

The study Public Transportation: Rethinking Concepts and Theories carried out by Gendered Innovations demonstrates that unpaid caring work and typical trip chaining behaviors associated with this work are often not accommodated adequately by transit agencies, due to the methods commonly used to gather and analyze statistics related to public transportation. Transit agencies often categorize trips based on purpose, and include items such as employment, shopping, family/personal errands, school, social and recreational, etc in travel surveys.

Trips that fall under the category of caring work are often concealed within several of the categories, and therefore transit services are typically designed to cater towards commuters travelling to and from employment since this category appears to account for the most significant percentage of trips. Caring work is defined as “unpaid labor performed by adults for children or other dependents, including labor related to the upkeep of a household”. As shown in the graphic, when caring work is included as a separate trip category in the travel survey it accounts for a large percentage of public transportation trips, therefore, it is important for transit agencies to provide adequate service to accommodate these types of trips. 

Additionally, statistics demonstrate that in the United States and several countries within the European Union women spend significantly more time on caring work compared to men. In 2010, the average woman in the United States spent twice as much time caring for and helping children in her household compared to the average man in the United States. This highlights that fact that consideration of caring work is key to ensuring public transportation is designed to work well for the whole population. One of the first steps that can be taken to plan transit services that account for gender differences in public transportation use and trip patterns, is to rethink the trip categories included on travel surveys and disaggregate the survey data by gender. This will more clearly illustrate the use of public transportation for caring work and provide a starting point for creating facilities and schedules that better accommodate this type of work. 

The paper titled Examining Trip-Chaining Behavior: A Comparison of Travel by Men and Women written by Nancy McGuckin and Elaine Murakami examines trip chaining behavior of adult men and women traveling on weekdays based on 1995 data from the Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS – versions later than 1995 now known as the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS)). The data included in the NPTS is largely based on private vehicle trips, but the patterns that emerge from these trips can be used to understand how public transportation services could be designed to provide for these types of travel demand. This study identifies that while an increasing percentage of women are participating in the workforce, women are still more likely than men to engage in trip chaining behaviors, and these trips are likely to occur in peak travel periods on the way between work and home.

Findings from the NPTS data demonstrate that adult women make a greater number of trips overall compared to men and create complex work-trip chains that include multiple stop destinations between work and home, which men are less likely to partake in. Both men and women are less likely to trip chain on the way to work compared to on the way home from work, but women are still more likely than men to make one or more stops on the way to work. Particularly in households with children, women are more likely to make stops on the way to work or home from work compared to women or men in households without children. The findings of this study indicate that gender differences in travel are likely to continue to prevail even as women resemble a greater percentage of the workforce. Therefore, accommodating different travel behaviors within the population will continue to be an important consideration when planning for public transportation. 

Research has demonstrated that there are often distinct differences in travel behaviors and trip purposes between women and men. Studies show that women spend significantly more time on caring work (household errands, transporting children, visiting elderly relatives, etc.) than men, and caring work can often be dependent on public transportation. This leads to travel behavior called trip-chaining, where one or more stops are made between an origin and destination. Trip-chaining can present significantly different needs for transit services compared to commuter-based transit services that cater to work/home trips for employment.

In addition to the differences in travel behaviors and trip purposes between women and men, taking public transportation as a woman can be a very different experience compared to taking public transportation as a man. As we explored in June, women often place a greater value on personal security compared to men, have a greater fear of being harassed while traveling, and will be more likely to change their travel behavior due to fear. Public transportation has also proven to be a common location where harassment occurs. This month, the focus will be on women’s safety specifically in transit environments. Discussion below includes some of the safety issues prevalent within many transit systems and examples of strategies to improve safety on public transportation such as design of transit facilities, and awareness campaigns undertaken by various transit agencies to educate the public and empower victims of harassment or bystanders to speak up if an incident occurs.

Women’s Safety in Transit Environments

Harassment on Public Transit

Dorothy Schulz and Susan Gilbert wrote a paper titled “Women and Transit Security: A New Look at an Old Issue”, which dates concerns related to women’s safety and security in transit environments back to 1904, when New York City’s first subway opened. The extreme overcrowding of the subway in the first few years of its service resulted in many women enduring harassment and unwanted sexual contact.

In a more recent context, an article from the Washington Post, “Why the #MeToo Movement is a Public Transportation Issue”, discusses how the theme of sexual harassment and assault experiences which took place on transit have emerged as part of the “#MeToo” campaign. Professor of urban planning at the University of California, Los Angeles, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris explains that transit environments such as buses, trains and stations provide opportunities for perpetrators due to the nature of these transit environments which involves public spaces that can be either extremely crowded with many strangers or very empty. Incidents on public transit can greatly impact ridership, and individuals who experience harassment on transit may alter their travel behavior to avoid certain lines or stations, or even permanently stop using public transit altogether.

A survey completed by Cornell University and Hollaback! found that public transit and public transit stations were the third and fourth most common locations for harassment to occur. They also determined that 77% of the survey respondents chose to take different modes of transportation based on their experiences with harassment.

There are several other articles available which explore the issue of harassment on public transportation experienced by women and help to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem.

Designing Safe Public Transit Facilities

There are many great resources which can be used by transportation professionals to design for safe public transit from a gendered perspective, and work towards the goal of eliminating harassment of women on public transportation.

The paper Hot Spots for Bus Crime: The Importance of Environmental Attributes written by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris examines environmental factors of bus stops with high concentration of crimes relative to bus stops in similar locations with much lower crime rates. A literature review on the concepts of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is included in the study, which identifies the impact that the environmental design can have on the occurrence of crime and illustrates strategies to mitigate crime using principles such as defensible space.  After identifying the ten most crime-ridden bus stops in Los Angeles and comparing these to four low-crime bus stops within the same area, the study concludes that most of the high-crime bus stops share several similar environmental attributes. Some of these attributes include: being located in commercial areas at intersections of multilane streets, not visible by surrounding stores, lack of adequate lighting, surrounded by empty lots or semi vacant buildings with many escape routes nearby such as alleys, located adjacent to liquor stores or bars, and surrounded by signs of physical and social incivilities such as litter, graffiti, or broken windows. Careful placement and design of bus stops using the principles of CPTED can help to prevent opportunity for crimes such as harassment and assault.

UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women, has provided a module on their virtual knowledge center called Safe Cities. This provides guidance for creating safe cities and communities for women and girls to live in which they can be free of violence, based on knowledge of experts and case studies of programs that have been successful. One of the elements included in Safe Cities is Safe Public Transit for Women and Girls , which outlines the importance of safe public transportation systems for women and girls’ ability to exercise their rights to freedom of movement and enjoyment of their city and its pubic spaces. Mobility is often necessary for people to participate in daily life, and safe public transit allows women and girls to exercise their mobility without fear. Some of the strategies recommended to create safe public transportation include: request stop programs that allow women to get off closer to their destinations between stops at night, using principles of CPTED when designing transit stops and stations, passenger assistance alarms on transit vehicles and emergency access telephones on platforms, surveillance technologies in transit stations and transit vehicles, and providing uniformed patrol presence in transit environments. Ensuring participation of female and male transport users of all ages in project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation is also essential in planning safe transportation from a gender perspective.

Public Education and Awareness

Many transit agencies are taking action to increase public awareness about sexual harassment within transit environments and increase reporting of such events

Source: Edmonton Transit System

Edmonton Transit System (ETS) has implemented several safety awareness campaigns to ensure that transit riders feel safe and can seek assistance if needed for emergencies, as well as report inappropriate behavior. One of the first campaigns implemented by ETS as part of a public education program was “It’s Never Okay”. This program seeks to empower individuals to be comfortable in calling for help if they are a victim of harassment or a witness to an event. The messages implemented during this campaign advertise that sexual harassment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by ETS.

Source: Battered Women’s Support Services

In 2016, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, partnered with women’s organizations Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) and Ending Violence Association, launched a poster campaign to raise awareness about sexual harassment and assault on public transit. As discussed in the media release on the BWSS website, this program was implemented after reports of sexual harassment and assault on transit to police increased by 28% in 2015. Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director at BWSS, summarized the importance of raising public awareness around harassment on transit:

“Sexual harassment and assault public awareness campaigns are necessary actions against silence and ignorance. Helping to create an environment where those that would perpetrate could no longer be guaranteed they could assault women and girls with impunity.”

Calgary Transit has implemented a Transit Watch Program which allows riders to report concerns. One of the newest

Source: Calgary Transit

features of this program is a text messaging option for reporting safety concerns. This allows transit users to discreetly report safety or security concerns, providing another option in addition to help buttons and phones that are provided at transit stations.   

This short video clip promoted by the Victoria State Government in Australia demonstrates how witnesses to harassment can also play an important role in reinforcing the message that it this is not acceptable behavior.

June 2019: The Gender Dimension to Personal Security in Transportation

Everyone has the desire to travel safely. Road safety, as it relates to crashes, is a core consideration in the design of road infrastructure. Personal security can also be considered a component of road safety, as similar to crashes, street harassment and assault can cause injury, affect mobility, and have other lasting impacts. There is a gender dimension to personal security in transportation, as research has shown that women place a greater value on personal security than men, report greater fear of being assaulted or harassed while traveling, and demonstrate more extreme changes in travel behaviour in response to this fear.

Photo: Stop Street Harassment Facebook

Loukaitou-Sideris wrote How to Ease Women’s Fear of Transportation Environments: Case Studies and Best Practices and summarized the mobility impacts of personal security issues in transportation for women:

“Whether traveling by bus, automobile, or other modes, women’s fear of transportation facilities – such as parking structures, buses, train cars, and bus stops – in turn affects the way women engage in travel, and may preclude them from a basic right to the city: the ability to move carefree from origin to destination without worrying that a ‘wrong choice’ of mode, transit setting, or time of travel would have consequences for their safety.”

In response to the fear of being assaulted or harassed, individuals may limit their activities and adopt precautionary measures and strategies which affect their mobility patterns: they may not travel at night, avoid certain places and certain modes of transportation, take specific routes, or only use certain modes of transportation at certain times of the day or if traveling accompanied.

Source: Stop Street Harassment

Incidents of street harassment often go unreported. In a survey in New York City, U.S., 63 percent of respondents indicated being sexually harassed while traveling on the subway, while 96 percent of those respondents failed to report the incidents to police. Similarly, a survey conducted in Ottawa, Canada found that 97 percent of respondents had experienced street harassment within the past year and 90 percent had never reported the incident.

Underreporting of these incidents limits our ability to understand the true magnitude of the problem. However, organizations like Harassmap and Hollaback! are shedding light on the prevalence of these issues. These organizations allow people to openly and anonymously report incidents of street harassment, which are then displayed on an online map that is publicly available. Harassmap was launched in Egypt and has received thousands of reports of street harassment. Hollaback! began in 2005 and is now active internationally in chapters across North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. The ability to visualize the location of incidents on a map can be a helpful tool for transportation practitioners, particularly those interested in applying concepts of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

The concept of CPTED is that the built environment can be manipulated to alter human behaviour and reduce crime and fear of crime. CPTED is a component of overarching crime prevention strategies and deals exclusively with the physical environment (other crime prevention components deal with policing, enforcement, and social programs to address root causes of crime).

Photo Credit:
Erik Witsoe/EyeEm/Getty Images

Aspects of the built environment that contribute to feelings of insecurity and fear of crime include darkness, desolation, lack of maintenance (i.e. graffiti and litter), and poor environmental quality.

The main components of CPTED are natural surveillance, natural access control, and territorial reinforcement. Having natural surveillance means that people using the space can see others and be seen by others. The idea behind natural surveillance is that offenders may be less likely to commit crime if they can be seen by the public, and people using the space would be less afraid of crime if they are not isolated and can access others for help. Natural access control is about clearly defining boundaries that guide and influence a person’s movement. Territorial reinforcement aims to assign a sense of ownership and purpose to space, so that users are comfortable and aware of their environment. Providing clear sightlines, alternative exits, escape opportunities, and reducing potential hiding spaces are important CPTED practices.

Incorporating CPTED principles into street design creates a safer feeling environment for everyone, regardless of gender.

CPTED Resources and Women’s Safety Audits

The International CPTED Association has several online resources and information on how to obtain a professional CPTED certification.

The purpose of a safety audit is to identify aspects of the built and social environment that may contribute to crime or fear of crime, develop solutions, and develop an implementation plan for those solutions. A global survey of 163 local government-community partnerships on women’s safety found that women’s safety audits are the most commonly used tool. METRAC is a Canadian not-for-profit organization responsible for developing the first Women’s Safety Audit in 1989. They now offer security audits for neighbourhoods, campuses, and workplaces.

Learning from Women to Create Gender Inclusive Cities contains several findings and case studies of women’s safety audits from around the world.

 

May 2019: Being an Ally in the Workplace

When discussing how to advance women in the workplace, much of the emphasis is placed on what women can do to advance their own careers. This month looks at ways that others can be allies for women throughout their careers. Several strategies laid out in the resources focus on how men can be an ally for women in the workplace, but many can be used by other women.

The goal of the ally is not to provide special treatment to certain employees but to be aware of how people may be treated differently in the workplace and learn techniques to treat everyone fairly. While some strategies, like mentoring, require a significant time commitment, others are as simple as recognizing someone in a meeting for a good idea. The strategies do not focus on fixing negative behavior by calling it out, but instead focus on promoting good ideas and how to recognize when detrimental things are said or done in the workplace.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines an ally as one that is associated with another as a helper : a person or group that provides assistance and support in an ongoing effort, activity, or struggle. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ally)

How to Become Allies for Women in the Workplace

The three following articles provide information for how to become allies for women in the workplace. Strategies work for both men and women, and some can apply to any minority groups in the workplace. One significant takeaway from these three articles and others on the subject is to start by listening. Listening may be the most important aspect of any initiative so the ally can understand the issues at hand before trying to resolve any of them.

The following Harvard Business Review article provides initial steps for men to be an ally for women in the workplace. The recommendations start with respectfully listening and learning the issues before taking a more active role in gender social justice: https://hbr.org/2018/10/how-men-can-become-better-allies-to-women

This Forbes article provides five ways that men can be allies for women in the workplace by recognizing and correcting innapropriate behavior or by mentoring women:   https://www.forbes.com/sites/emiliearies/2017/08/15/5-ways-men-can-be-womens-allies-at-work/#3dd0b3fb13de

The third article highlights the importance of women advancing and mentoring other women in the workplace. Progress to equality in the workforce is slow and requires approaching the issue from all angles: https://hbr.org/2018/09/dont-underestimate-the-power-of-women-supporting-each-other-at-work?utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hbr

Advice from the Experts         

Deborah Tannen "Talking from 9 to 5" (http://www.deborahtannen.com/talking-from-9-to-5)

Deborah Tannen's book "Talking from 9 to 5", and the movie based on the book, are almost 25 years old, but still resonate today. A professor showed the movie to all transportation graduate students to show examples of how men and women typically speak, and how that impacts how their ideas are received by others. It helped me understand how I could subtly change the way I was speaking to communicate more effectively in addition to understanding how communication typically differs between men and women.

Bentley University's Center for Women in Business (https://wit.abcd.harvard.edu/files/wit/files/cwb_men_as_allies_research_report_spring_2017.pdf)

The Center for Women in Business completed a report in 2017 outlining the current research related to being an ally for women in the workplace. The report explains how creating allies in the workplace is part of a larger diversity and inclusion initiative and lays out steps to create an allies initiative. The citations provide a list of sources to find additional information on the topic.           

April 2019: Interviewing

Interviewing is stressful and can be intimidating.  You are meeting and talking with a person or panel that may decide your future based on a short amount of time in front of them.  Some people are great at first impressions and putting that best foot forward.  Others struggle and while they may be the right or best candidate, they can't convey that in an intense interview. 

Further, the position may sound like your dream job, a milestone position or even a foot in the door but how do you as the possible employee know that it is the right/best decision?  How do you know that you aren't stepping in to a toxic environment (outside of the work description)?  How do you ask the questions that give you that insight without turning the interviewer off? 

I believe that we have all struggled with these issues as we consider a new position and as we interview for it.  What is the right demeanor?  What is the right energy to give off?  Is this all even more crucial as women?  If these questions don't resonate with you or remind you of situations you have been in, great, but if they do, let's start a conversation about interviewing.

Insightful Interviewing Tips from Shelley Row

(Learn more about Shelley)

  • It is essential to know your brand and have a brand statement. Your brand statement succinctly states your skills and the value system you bring to work (dependable, professional, responsible, creative). Here is an example of a brand statement:

I am a successful executive who loves a challenge. I provide:

Big picture clarity,

Well-organized action and

Polished presentation

I bring professionalism, integrity, politeness and self-awareness to my work.

  • Instead of ending with pleasantries, end the interview with a short strong summary of your attributes and statement about why you are THE choice for the job.
  • Use mental priming prior to the interview. Priming is a method to put your mind and body into a positive, strong mindset. For example, think of a time you felt confident or think of a project where you felt good about your contribution. Bring these into your mind just prior to the interview. Research shows that priming has an impact on the confidence you project in the interview.
  • Know your values so that you can determine if the organization and work environment provide alignment. If you value family time, don’t look at organizations with a go-go attitude and expectations of long hours.

Three Articles

This article speaks to how some companies are trying to get more out of an interview. Don't be thrown off by these tactics, be prepared for different lines of questioning and different atmospheres or situations meant to gauge your responses. https://www.theblaze.com/news/2016/02/22/charles-schwab-ceo-reveals-how-he-tests-job-candidates-by-taking-them-to-breakfast-having-restaurant-mess-up-their-order/amp

This article is also on the subject of interviewers using different and stressful situations to gauge a potential employee. We are all a little nervous, excited, etc. when we go in to an interview, but be true to yourself and follow some of the tips from Shelley to help get you through. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/news/when-a-job-interview-goes-very-wrong-4960042/

This article challenges employers and potential employees to continue to grow and flex within a position. Know what employers are looking for and what skills you can develop or enhance when entering a new position. Never stop learning and bettering yourself as a professional. https://gusto.com/framework/hr/jeff-bezos-hiring-tips/

March 2019: Hiring and Measuring Progress

According to a 2014 US News & World Report, 24% of the overall engineering workforce are women with racial minorities occupying only 12% of the workforce. A 2017 report by the Environmental Financial Consulting Group, Inc. (EFCG) showed that 26% of the overall engineering workforce are women with racial minorities occupying only 11% of the workforce. These numbers suggest that more can be done to promote diversity in the engineering field. Diversity hiring is hiring based on merit with special care taken to ensure procedures are free from biases related to a candidate’s age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics that are unrelated to their job performance. This month we take a look at why diversity in the engineering field is important, as well as challenges of hiring diverse employees, methods of attracting a diverse pool of applicants, retaining diverse talent and measuring progress.

Diversity is Key

An article by Sharon L. Walker, Interim Dean, Bourns College of Engineering Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering , “WHY DIVERSITY IS KEY TO THE FUTURE OF ENGINEERING” outline four key reasons: innovation and talent, profit, shifting demographics and fair treatment. A key takeaway from this article is that with a diverse engineering field we can capitalize on a range of perspectives that will broaden our innovation and contribute to equality in our field. You can access this article at https://engineeringonline.ucr.edu/blog/why-diversity-is-key-to-the-future-of-engineering/.

Hiring Challenges

The challenge of hiring diverse employees lies directly within the hiring process itself. How does a company advertise for positions? Simply placing ads on websites and/or using recruiters is not enough. An article in Forbes by Marny Smith, “Help Wanted: Hiring with Diversity & Inclusion in Mind” provides eight tips on making diversity and inclusion a key part of your hiring strategy. Some of the tips include hiring for “culture add” not “culture fit” and being thoughtful in your interview process. These tips can help a company move the diversity initiative to the next stage. This article can be found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/gradsoflife/2019/02/12/help-wanted-hiring-with-diversity--inclusion-in-mind/#38ec40c956c8.

Attracting A Diverse Pool

Once a company has an initiative to diversify, how does the company attract a diverse pool of applicants?  An article by Ji-A Min on Ideal.com, “Diversity Hiring: 6 Steps To Hiring More Diverse Candidates” outlines ways to achieve this objective. Tips include: improve the language used in the job description with a link to a gender decoder for ads; show the existing diversity of the company; and encouraging referrals. This process can constantly be improved by completing a hiring audit to set a realistic diversity hiring goal and then evaluating the outcome and improving on the strategies. These tips and additional links to resources can be found at https://ideal.com/diversity-hiring/.

Retention

Retaining that diverse pool of talent can also be a challenge. "Diversity gets people into the room, but inclusion keeps them there." When employees feel that they are part of a team regardless of their diversity, everyone prospers. The success of similar diverse employees can reinforce the potential for success of another diverse employee. Mentorships have been shown to retain talent, not only at a particular company but also in the field of engineering overall. A publication by Women In ITE committee member Jodi Godfrey, MSCE and co-author Robert L. Bertini, PH.D, both with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida (USF) titled “Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry”, detail major findings and recommendations on attracting and retaining women. The paper can be found at http://transweb.sjsu.edu/sites/default/files/1893-Godfrey-Attract-Retain-Women-Transportation.pdf.

Measuring Progress

Finally, measuring progress means more than just diversity hire percentages. Progress should be measured based upon several key indicators. What is the company’s diversity applicant to hire ratio? Are the diverse employees engaged in professional memberships? It there a diverse pool of attendees enrolled in learning development courses? Does the company have a mentoring program that is diverse in both mentor and mentee? What is the diversity ratio of company promotions? How do these percentages compare to national and/or industry statistics? Once a baseline is established and goals are set, measuring the success of a goal is critical to achieving a more diverse workforce in the engineering field. An article by Bärí A. Williams, head of business operations at StubHub North America, outlines “8 Ways To Measure Diversity That Have Nothing To Do With Hiring”. The article describes how companies must be intentional about creating a culture of diversity to be successful in their diversity initiatives. The article can be read at http://fortune.com/2017/04/20/workplace-diversity/.

Ultimately, companies should develop a process for changing the diversity pool in the workplace. The process should include the company’s intention or goal of what the company wants to accomplish, using the goals to make a commitment and then taking actions that reflect the intention and help achieve the commitment.

Follow the @ITEHQ on Twitter and Women In ITE community forum for additional posts all month. #WomenofITE

February 2019: Spotlight on Women in ITE

To start our crusade, thought we might spotlight some of the talent right here in ITE. We asked several women leaders at all stages of their careers a series of questions about things that have impacted their lives and careers. Their responses give us insight in four areas: mentors/role models, their best advice, and around coaching girls on Engineering and ITE.

 

Another reason to spotlight the many women who have shaped the face of transportation and ITE is to celebrate that today in 2019 we have two women candidates for ITE International Vice President, the first time in the history of the organization!

 

Today’s Women in ITE Sub-committee was formed in 2018 and builds off of a tradition from 1994 when Marsha Anderson Bomar, ITE’s first female president, realized there were very few women at ITE’s Annual Meetings. She invited them all to what would become the first Women’s Power Lunch.  Today’s sub-committee has a mission to share emerging research and projects that are tackling gender in design and in the workplace, but the group also aims to coach young professionals through finding the best advice - so please enjoy and remember to get involved for Introduce a Girl to Engineering day!

 

Mentors and Role Models

As transportation professionals we all need someone we trust to provide advice as we move forward in our careers and life. We also have people that we see as role models, people we respect that we can emulate.

 

When asked about role models the responses ranged from mom/mother to teachers/professors and various ITE members that have influenced their lives.

 

My mom also helped the other kids on our block with their homework, college applications, scholarship applications, and moral support. Seeing this willingness to give has inspired me to follow her example and be a woman of action. Strong women need to be role models to help others realize their potential.

-Lynn LaMunyon, ITE 2019 International Vice President Candidate

 

Professionally, it’s my aunt. She was one of the first women to complete a chemical engineering degree at my alma mater. As someone to look up to, she reminds me that you can establish your career on your own terms and make time for adventures outside of work. She’s a great example of work-life balance.

-Alyssa Rodriguez, ITE 2019 International Vice President Candidate

 

I was promoted to Deputy Director over the Street Maintenance Division of 300 blue-collar laborers. I had never supervised that many people at one time, and they had never had a woman boss before. I ended up making lemonade out of lemons, mostly because I set up a voluntary Mentor Program to show them I cared about their careers and helped them promote up the ladder, if they chose to.

-Jenny Grote, ITE 2002 President

 

 

Advice

When asked what advice you would give to your younger self, the answers focused on being confident in who you are and don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself.

 

Don’t try to do everything! I often overextend myself and feel that I sometimes do not give my best effort. I am still trying to learn to say no – and have found that I can more easily say, Not Now! Gives me time to reassess and prioritize.

-Marsha Anderson Bomar, ITE 1994 President

 

Don’t feel like you must overachieve or go it alone. There are plenty of mentors, official or unofficial, who are so willing to help guide young people. The tendency is to overlook the wisdom of the elders, but now that I am one, I can see what lies ahead. I also would encourage a more balanced life. Work-life balance is way too hard to do it without a support system. Most of all…..ENJOY THE JOURNEY!!

-Jenny Grote, ITE 2002 President

 

When asked what piece of advice you'll never forget? or who has helped you most in your career? The answers were taken from personal experience, including starting a new way of viewing standard business procedures when starting a new business.

 

•Trust but verify – this one serves particularly well when relaying information to elected officials

•Take your chances when the opportunity comes up. If you always wanted to do something and the opportunity arises, you have to jump at it even if the timing doesn’t seem quite right.

-Alyssa Rodriguez, ITE 2019 International Vice President Candidate

 

When I started Street Smarts in 1990, there was no discussion of work-life anything. Technology was minimal. I still took the chance and stood the rules on their head. Many options taken for granted now were unheard of in 1990. We had flex time, work from home, PTO not vacation and sick time, and so much more that enabled everyone (except our receptionist) to be open and comfortable with addressing life and work.

-Marsha Anderson Bomar, ITE 1994 President

 

I was often the quiet one at the table listening to all the different viewpoints and following my instincts to only raise my voice when necessary. I sometimes felt my voice wasn’t being heard or that I wasn’t contributing enough. I realized with time that in most instances, my role was to simply listen to all viewpoints and then form the direction to take. So I would say to my younger self - be confident in yourself, it is a long journey.

-Paula Flores, ITE 2016 President

 

A small piece of advise I give, particularly as a female, is to limit using passive words like "just" and "could". Don't say "I was just wondering if you could do this...". Say "Can you please do this..." Be direct and assertive.

-Abby Scaletta

 

Introducing Girls to Engineering

Feb 21 is Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. Various programs exist around the world that focus on introducing girls to science, engineering, math and technology fields, but we asked what is your approach to introducing girls to engineering?

 

Engineers, regardless of their gender or other diversity, have a common goal. We should focus less on our differences and more on our similarities. Young women need to be confident in their abilities, stand up for what they believe in, and be proud of their accomplishments.

-Lynn LaMunyon, ITE 2019 International Vice President Candidate

 

Our provincial professional association, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba, has come up with a brilliant way of getting young girls interested in engineering. The initiative targets mixed-gender groups/classrooms and explains the "why" behind what engineers do by explaining that our job's purpose is to help improve people's lives. By changing the language from "I'm an engineer and I build cool things" to "I'm an engineer so I can help people by building ___" it engages students who are likely to choose other fields to help the community. Often females seem more drawn to the compassionate areas of health care and education because they want to help people. It seems that there is a knowledge gap in which they are not aware that our profession's goal is to positively impact people's lives. This approach works for all areas of engineering, including the transportation field.

-Abby Scaletta

 

I have made numerous presentations to high school and college students to introduce engineering to all. Add another 100+ presentations to ITE Student Chapters as well. Some colleges invited me to speak to the women in engineering to have a more intimate Q&A session. To me, it’s more than one day of mentoring young women about engineering, it’s about planting the seeds, and then watering them, along with others we don’t even know about who are doing the same thing. Now it’s time for the harvest!!

-Jenny Grote, ITE 2002 President

 

Impact of ITE

When asked about how ITE has impacted your career, the responses focused on having a community of professionals with similar goals and experiences to gain knowledge and exchange ideas. Many ITE members have served as role models and mentors.  Many life long friendships can be attributed to involvement in ITE at various levels.

 

ITE has helped me connect with so many wonderful people and has provided many opportunities for me to learn and grow professionally. The community is so welcoming, and I now have a network of transportation professionals that extends across North America.

-Erin Toop

 

Having access to a community of like-minded individuals is invaluable. Often, we feel like we’re alone dealing with a difficult issue, but if you reach out to your ITE network there’s always a good piece of advice or a solution.

-Alyssa Rodriguez, ITE 2019 International Vice President Candidate

 

ITE has had a profound impact on my career. Since I was immersed in ITE right out of college, having worked for Walter Kraft (ITE President in 1987), ITE and my career have been intertwined. The networking aspects of ITE have allowed me opportunities for large projects that I may have otherwise missed. Some of my best friends are fellow ITE members, and I maintain close friendships across the globe. I’m always looking forward to the next ITE meeting, so I can see these friends and communicate in person. The extensive technical program, whether it is sessions at meetings, webinars or publications, is invaluable to a successful career in the transportation profession. Involvement at the local level affords you the opportunity to network with peers in your market, which presents opportunities for collaboration.

-Lynn LaMunyon, ITE 2019 International Vice President Candidate