Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry

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MTI research explores how to attract, promote, and retain women in the transportation industry
February 11, 2019
San José, CA


While women account for 50% of the working age population, the transportation industry struggles to attract and retain women. In Mineta Transportation Institute’s (MTI) latest research report “Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry,” MTI Research Associates Jodi Godfrey and Dr. Robert Bertini identify research needed to attract, promote and retain women in the transportation industry.

“Women accounted for less than 15% of the total transportation workforce in 2017,” says Godfrey, “and a key question for workforce development experts is why.” This report analyses previous research on this topic and identifies what additional research is needed in order to close the gender imbalance in the transportation industry. In addition, Godfrey and Bertini identify a number of key recommendations for the industry to better attract, promote, and retain women.

A particular emphasis in this work is on the factors that tend to drive women from the field. Godfrey and Bertini identify the lack of female role models and mentors as a significant deterrent to women joining the transportation industry. Their research suggests the following recruitment approach to attract women into the field:

  • Diversify the perception of the industry to better publicize the presence of women in the industry;
  • Connect with women early, and not just early in their careers but early in their school years;
  • Have a flexible and encouraging work culture to remove the stigmas of a male-dominated field;
  • Attract a diverse talent pool that focuses on how organizations foster both communal and agentic goals.

According to Bertini, “gender equality and gender diversity in the workforce are key to the economic growth required for companies to win the talent war. It is more important than ever to ensure that the talent pool encompasses all qualified candidates, and women are the largest pools of untapped labor globally.”

After recruitment, the challenge then becomes retaining those employees. Promotion and retention of women in the transportation industry is multifaceted and requires holistic approaches and dedication from all levels of employment. Mentoring, family-friendly policies, professional development, and leadership training are all key factors that lead to improved retention and promotion rates.


At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nation's’ transportation system through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer. We help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.


Jodi Godfrey is an MTI Research Associate and researcher at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida. Dr. Robert Bertini is an MTI Research Associate and Director of CUTR at the University of South Florida.



Irma Garcia, MTI Communications & Workforce Development Coordinator



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