Sparking Women’s Interests in Transportation Careers

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MTI researchers develop and test college-level educational intervention to attract more young women to transportation
December 9, 2021
San José, CA

Only approximately 14% of the transportation workforce are women. The pressing need for a workforce with diverse skills and experiences, especially given the critical role transportation innovation will play in combating society’s biggest challenge—climate change. New Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) research, Promoting Interest in Transportation Careers Among Young Women, developed and tested a college-level educational intervention that uses pro-environmental framing and exposure to female transportation role models to help attract more young women to the industry.

The most notable findings of the research include:

  • Female students who completed the climate change course that included the one-class transportation module were more open to working in a transportation career by the end of the semester (17.5% increase) compared to the control group. 

  • All students who were exposed to the transportation module better understood (39.7% increase) that the transportation industry can provide a green and sustainable career. 

“Students visited the Careers for Change website ( to watch videos of three of the featured transportation professionals and view the articles accompanying each professional. We designed the website, which includes 5–8 minute interviews with transportation professionals like Dr. Beverly Scott and Dr. Hilary Nixon to highlight the diverse career paths that align with green and sustainable careers,” explain the authors. 

The components of the learning module—including pro-environmental framing of the transportation industry and video lectures from women transportation professionals—developed and implemented in this research could easily be adopted by instructors of existing environmentally themed courses. Attracting students of all genders to the transportation industry will create a more robust, diverse workforce ready to overcome any challenge in the years to come.



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 nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. Founded in 1991, MTI is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants, including those made available by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB1). MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Eugene Cordero is an MTI Research Associate and professor in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San José State University as well as the founder of Green Ninja, a K-12 science publisher that uses environmental solutions as a lens for teaching science and engineering. Kiana Luong is a student in San Jose State University’s Animation/Illustration program with an interest in visual development and production.


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