Empowerment through independence
At Uber we create flexible opportunities for people with many other life commitments. This is particularly relevant for women who still carry most of the burden related to unpaid care and household chores, and need to work around things like childcare, education and other commitments¹. In fact, recent research shows that 65% of women require flexibility to work on a schedule that fits around their everyday life².
And we also hear this directly from drivers. In a recent survey among active women drivers in Europe, 59% said the main reasons they chose Uber were because they wanted to be independent, have a flexible schedule, and work while taking care of family³.
Barriers for women in the transportation sector
Despite its potential to offer flexible opportunities, the European mobility and transportation sector has traditionally posed many structural, economic and social barriers for women to work. According to Eurostat (2021), women on average only represent around 15 % of transport workers in the EU, and a study carried out for the European Commission (2021) found that one of the main reasons for gender imbalance in the EU transport sector is the persistence of strong gender stereotypes.
Today, only 25% of women say they would consider offering driver services through a ride-hailing app like Uber – largely due to concerns around having strangers in their vehicle, driving at night, the efforts associated with the licensing process, or not having a suitable vehicle².
While many of these barriers have existed in the transportation sector since the beginning, we believe opportunities should be made equal for men and women. That’s why we are setting an ambitious goal to become the most accessible platform for women seeking flexible, independent work in Europe. To reach that goal, we are launching a comprehensive set of initiatives that will make it easier for women to become independent ride-hailing drivers.
Our initiatives to support women drivers
Over the next two years, Uber will invest one million Euro in various initiatives aiming to support women drivers across Europe. With 57% of women saying that the associated costs, efforts to obtain the required licences, and the lack of a suitable vehicle prevent them from accessing platform work as a driver², Uber is launching programmes to subsidise the cost of PHV licences, provide discounted access to vehicles, and support women who want to build their own driving business.
Research also found that women would be more likely to consider driving with a ride-hailing app if they had more information about how the job works (33%) or knew other women that are already working with a ride-hailing app (29%)². Therefore, we are also rolling out information campaigns specifically targeted at women, new referral schemes, and dedicated forums and communities for independent women drivers to connect, receive training and share their experiences.
For example, in France, we host monthly roundtables with women drivers across multiple cities and are partnering with Force Femmes, an NGO that provides free support to unemployed women over 45 years, while in the UK, we are working with Adecco to develop specific campaigns addressing women drivers.
We are also piloting the “Women Rider Preference” feature in Poland, Czech Republic and Romania. This feature allows women drivers to indicate a preference for picking up women riders. Not only does that give them more control over the rides they accept, but it also empowers them to choose to drive during peak earning hours, such as at night on weekends.
Standing for safety
We also know that women experience travel differently and encounter particular safety risks that men are less likely to face. That’s why we have doubled down on providing best-in-class safety features, such as the in-app emergency assistance button, 24/7 incident support, “Follow my ride”, and as well as free Partner Protection insurance for independent drivers and couriers across 23 European countries in partnership with Allianz Partners.
Our work is guided by safety experts and advocates, so we can base our approach on their advice, expertise, and proven strategies. We work with third parties to develop safety technology, education and awareness programs, prevention policies and proactive campaigns to do our part to drive systemic change on safety issues. To help prevent and address gender-based violence, we partner with key NGOs like UK SAYS NO MORE and HandsAway and have organised an anti-harassment campaign, which the ‘Women in Transport – EU Platform for Change’ recognized as a good industry practice.
Supporting women’s empowerment
In 2020, Uber was accepted to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, and in 2021, we signed the European Commission’s ‘Declaration on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men in the Transport Sector’ and worked with the G20 Business Advisory Board to develop and endorse a ‘Manifesto on women empowerment’. Uber is also a member of the Corporate Partnership Board of the International Transport Forum at the OECD, and working with 33 other companies in the CPB workstream on gender.
Although there is still a long way to go, we trust that our initiatives will enable more women across Europe to access flexible, independent work – not only on the Uber platform, but across the entire transport sector and beyond.
“We welcome Uber’s ambition to become the most accessible platform for women seeking flexible, independent work in Europe. With women severely underrepresented in the transport sector workforce across the UK and Europe, it’s crucial that companies take the lead in challenging gender stereotypes and breaking down the barriers that prevent women accessing work in this vibrant sector.”
Jo Field, President of Women In Transport
“The partnership between Force Femmes and Uber enabled women to better understand the drivers’ profession and to overcome existing obstacles. Our goal is to provide women with as many opportunities as possible to actively drive their careers.”
Sophie Fenot, General Delegate of Force Femmes
“POLIS applauds this commitment towards gender equality. Women account for a fraction of the transport workforce, not just in Europe but across the globe, and effort to close this gap must persevere. As the ride hailing sector continues to grow, they must take a leading role here.”
Karen Vancluysen, Secretary General of POLIS
“We welcome Uber’s initiatives to support women drivers, particularly their approach to safety as many of our members have highlighted the need for women to feel safe as both transport workers and users of the network. These are just some of the barriers that need to be tackled to enable women to be equally represented in the transport workforce. We look forward to working with Uber as they progress towards achieving their goal.”
Jo Field, President of Women In Transport