The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 54-20 [New]

Practices to Promote Gender Equity in the DOT Workforce
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $55,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/29/2022 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Trey Joseph Wadsworth
Fiscal Year: 2023

Preliminary Scope

Women comprise only 15% of the overall transportation workforce, and this statistic declines in executive and leadership positions. For women of color, the numbers are even more disparate. In 2021, the U. S. Department of Transportation issued a Request for Information for Transportation Equity Data. More than 300 comments were received, including comments focused on the lack of representation of women in transportation agencies and the lack of equity in compensation by gender, leading to low gender diversity. In addition, commenters called for a reliable system for monitoring diversity, including gender, race/ethnicity, and ability, in the transportation workforce.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has a priority on creating pathways to equity during the term of its current president, Dr. Shawn Wilson. This priority includes fostering a culture within and across the state department of transportation (DOT) community that expands opportunities for under-represented populations based on age, gender, ethnicity, and race. DOTs have implemented programs, policies, and practices to address gender equity. However, a synthesis of current practice does not exist to examine challenges and solutions to take a step toward gender equity in the DOT workforce.

The objective of this synthesis is to document state DOT current practices related to promoting gender equity in their workforces (including attracting, retaining, and promoting women and those who identify as women).

Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):
• Challenges, solutions, and actions in promoting gender equity in the DOT workforce;
• Practices, strategies, and plans to mitigate women's low representation in DOTs and inequities in compensation;
• Systems or tools in use by DOT human resources departments to track demographic information and uses of the data to promote gender equity;
• Recruitment practices in use to improve gender equity (e.g., updating job postings to remove gender bias or use of diverse hiring panels);
• Training programs and flexible workspace programs used to improve gender equity;
• Adaptable practices to promote gender equal opportunities in the workforce; and
• Leadership actions and principles addressing gender equity.

Information will be gathered through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information Sources (Partial):
• American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 2021. Presidential Emphasis Areas. https://www.transportation.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/21_22-Dr-Wilson-EA-brochure_web.pdf.
• Godfrey, Jodi, and Bertini, Robert L. 2019. Attracting and Retaining Women in the Transportation Industry. Mineta Transportation Institute. https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/mti_publications/259/.
• Hanson, Susan, and Murakami, Elaine. 2010. Women in Transportation. Public Roads, Volume 73, No. 5, FHWA-HRT-10-003. https://highways.dot.gov/public-roads/marchapril-2010/women-transportation.
• Karimian, H. R., Rouhanizadeh, B., Jafari, A., Kermanshachi, S. 2019. A Machine Learning Framework to Identify Employees at Risk of Wage Inequality: U.S. Department of Transportation Case Study. ASCE International Conference on Computing in Civil Engineering 2019. https://doi.org/10.1061/9780784482438.004.
• Metro, Kristal, Harper, Christopher, and Bogus, Susan M. 2021. Factors Affecting Workforce Resilience in Public Transportation Agencies. Journal of Management in Engineering, Volume 37, Issue 4. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000920.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2007. Racial and
Gender Diversity in State DOTs and Transit Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/22010.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2019. Transportation Workforce Planning and Development Strategies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25624.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Promising
Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25585.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. "Finding, Keeping, and Advancing Women in the Transportation Workforce." Transportation Research Board Blog. https://www.nationalacademies.org/trb/blog/women-in-transportation.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2021. Attracting, Retaining, and Developing the Transportation Workforce: Transportation Planners. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26429.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2021. Resource Guide for Improving Diversity and Inclusion Programs for the Public Transportation Industry. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26230.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2021. Insights, Inclusion, and Impact: Framing the Future for Women in Transportation. Transportation Research Board Circular E-C268. https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/circulars/ec268.pdf.
• National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2022. TRB Snap Search: Workforce – TRB's involvement in research on Workforce from 2020-2022. https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/snap/workforce.pdf.
• Ng, W., and Acker, A. (2020), "The Gender Dimension of the Transport Workforce," International Transport Forum Discussion Papers, No. 2020/11, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/0610184a-en.
• Rouhanizadeh, Behzad, and Kermanshachi, Sharareh. 2021. A Gender-based Analysis of Workforce Promotion Factors in U.S. Transportation Agencies. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Volume 12, December 2021, 100457. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trip.2021.100457.
• U.S. DOT, 2021. Summary of Public Comments Received on the Department of Transportation's Request for Information on Transportation Equity Data, Docket No. DOT-OST-2021-0056. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2021-11/Summary%20of%20Public%20Comments%20DOT%20Equity%20RFI.pdf.
• White House, 2021. Fact Sheet: National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/22/fact-sheet-national-strategy-on-gender-equity-and-equality/.

TRB Staff
Trey Joseph Wadsworth
Phone: 202-334-2307
Email: twadsworth@nas.edu  
Meeting Dates
First Panel: September 29, 2022
Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: June 8, 2023

Topic Panel
Dani Doorn, South Dakota Department of Transportation
Lorri Economy, Utah Department of Transportation
Dr. Alireza Ermagun, Mississippi State University
Kiersten Hall, New York State Department of Transportation
William Hartwell, West Virginia Department of Transportation
Brenda Moore, Retired / NCHRP 20-05 Synthesis Oversight Panel
Dr. Hilary Nixon, Mineta Transportation Institute San Jose State University
Amanda Olive, North Carolina Department of Transportation
Kimberly Webb, Michigan Department of Transportation
Martha Kenley, Federal Highway Administration Liaison
William Anderson, Transportation Research Board Liaison

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