Public Transport Authority in Warsaw participates in the DIAMOND project, regarding the expectations and needs of women in public transport. ZTM’s role is primarily to collect data on which to base recommendations of services increasing the level of inclusion and efficiency of transport systems, with particular emphasis on gender.
Many tools serve this purpose, including interviews or surveys. Research done in DIAMOND project relates to various areas (e.g. employment of women in the transport sector, rail and metro, autonomous vehicles, or bicycle rental systems). So far, as part of the tasks implemented by ZTM, interviews with employees of Warsaw’s public transport and observations at selected metro stations, as well as railways, have been conducted in Warsaw Metropolitan Area.
Interviews were conducted with 15 women employed in Warsaw public transport. They were both people performing work and tasks strictly in an office environment (at various levels – both decision-makers and regular employees), people working in direct contact with the passengers (customers), and bus drivers.
All interviews were conducted based on a special scenario prepared by TU Dublin. The main issues addressed in it concerned:
- Definition of fairness of women in transport services
- Key needs, barriers and factors supportig the inclusion of women in the public transport sector
- Proposed indicators to monitor the gender situation in public transport
An attempt to create a definition of equality
During the interviews, the respondents were asked to create a definition of emotionality and employability of women in the transport sector (transport services). While it was not possible to create an universal definition of this term, the interviewees pointed to features that could describe the ideal state.
First of all, experience, knowledge, and competences should be of significance when recruiting, assessing, and appreciating. Openness to new tasks and problems are also important factors in these processes. At the same time, during recruitment, you should first verify your skills and experience, not gender. Also, uniform, transparent and equal principles and measures must be used when recruiting, designating, appreciating responsibilities, and periodic assessments, while the culture of the institution itself should focus on perceiving the skills of individuals rather than emphasizing gender and differences.
Respondents also indicated that equal opportunities mean identical opportunities. In their opinion, gender should not matter, because when the discussion about it begins, it emphasizes the differences, and some principles and elements of the organization’s culture may be a facade. The interviewees pointed out that the remuneration must be equal for persons dealing with the same issues and performing similar duties. The need for cyclical verification by the employer of the issue of the sense of honesty and working conditions was also pointed out. In the opinion of the respondents, the existing code of ethics at ZTM is a good indicator of activities and cooperation in the company.
Women’s specific needs
Another topic raised in the study was the issue of the specific needs of women employed in the transport sector. For the analysis, the results of the responses were organized by researchers into five categories: infrastructure, work organization, open information, a sense of stability, and training.
Interlocutors indicated the need for the employer to provide pro-family and social solutions, including primarily the creation and, for example, the organisation of company nurseries and kindergartens, as well as the introduction of measures guaranteeing other forms of care for children during the mother’s work.
An important element that was noted during the study was the sanitary and hygienic facilities, including a dedicated toilet for women on bus loops, outlets, service points, or the office (all with access to special hygiene products). The collected answers also showed that the process of shaping communication links should take into account factors that guarantee the provision of good quality service for school and school-based facilities (which increases the quality and speed of traveling of parents of children).
Figure 1: View of one of ZTM stations in Warsaw Metropolitan Area
Organization of work
It is desirable that as far as possible, flexible and mobile working time should be introduced in entities responsible for the functioning of public transport, taking into account the specific needs of women (parental, health etc.). About professional ethics, it was pointed out that the employer must maintain social principles, but also respect employee rights.
Respondents said that an important element of social policy should be additional, occasional financial support – e.g. child benefits, parcels, vouchers, additional funds. The interviews also highlighted the need of receiving adequate psychological care, which is important in preparing for work, carrying out tasks or responding to emerging professional problems. It is also important for the employer to guarantee equality in access to training, as well as health and safety issues.
In the opinion of the interviewees, in entities from the transport sector, it is crucial to build a sense of problem awareness among managers, as it was said: if managers do not see problems in employing women, then the organization will be more honest and inclusive.
In this case, the employer needs to provide transparent and equal employment rules that take into account employees’ competences and do not discriminate based on stereotypes or childbearing. It would be desirable to create an explicit pay schedule – a clear and transparent system indicating the requirements, after which you can get a raise or promotion. In the respondents’ opinion, an important issue that should be implemented is gender parity at all levels, including managerial positions.
A sense of stability
Regarding the sense of stability, all employees must have fairly similar needs. Respondents underlined in interviews that job security has a great impact on the arrangement or creation of life plans for employees and their families. Remuneration certainty was indicated as an important factor.
Occupational stability is also perceived as a lack of threats to occupational safety – peace/security, no threats while performing work (especially in the case of work outside the office), or support in the event of encountering aggression.
Training activities were perceived by the interlocutors as a tool enabling a sense of self-realization, impacting in professional development. It is very important for the employer to ensure equal access to training, as well as to build among employees the conviction that they need to raise their professional competences.
Assertiveness was pointed out among the desired training topics. Attention was also drawn to the need for the organizer and public transport operators to carry out activities aimed at educating passengers so that they could understand the tasks performed by employees of the transport sector to a better degree than before. According to the respondents, training policy should take greater account of developing soft skills, rather than imposing hard solutions.
It should be highlighted that none of the interviewees indicated cases in which she would feel openly and fully discriminated against on the grounds of her sex. The above arguments, however, are phenomena observed by the people interviewed and should be verified in quantitative research.
Interlocutors were asked to share their insights and knowledge about the barriers to employment and work in the transport sector that they think exists.
The features are ranked according to the following topics: infrastructure, motherhood, public transport sector and cultural stereotypes.
A very big restriction of an infrastructural nature is for women the lack of dedicated toilets at the loops (tram, bus etc.), which reduces the comfort of work and mental comfort. There is also a noticeable lack of separate changing rooms for women.
According to the respondents, women in transport are skipped for promotion due to children (e.g. a woman who has no children is skipped because she is suspected of becoming pregnant). There are also situations that they are skipped at promotions due to raising young children. In the opinion of the respondents, distinguishing women as a separate group of employees is a huge barrier.
The employment of men with lower qualifications instead of women for fear of maternity leave was considered another important barrier. Stereotypes regarding motherhood, pregnancy, or raising children and the resulting assessment of employees mainly through this prism were also mentioned as drawbacks.
Public transport sector stereotypes
Among the respondents, one can see the fear of masculinising the profession. The transport sector is perceived as a typically “male” sector, which discourages women from seeking work in this area. Fear of technology is mentioned as an important barrier – there is a perception that transport is a “rocket science” that cannot be understood and learned. Another factor of a similar nature is the fear of a lack of physical or psychological predisposition to work in this field.
As examples of cultural stereotypes, the respondents expressed the lack of faith of women in their abilities as well as the lack of flexible thinking and overzealous adherence to principles in the management and functioning of public transport. Other barriers also include sexist behaviour based on friends.
Suggestions for indicators
Interlocutors were asked to consider whether there are indicators that could help in assessing whether a given company/organization is pro-fair or not. If they do not exist, they were asked to indicate what factors may indicate that the transport sector is more or less open to women.
One of the groups of such factors may be statistical data:
- % share of women and the elderly in general employed about these groups in society
- Number of training sessions per year
- Number of men’s/women’s toilets and the number of toilets fitted with hygiene products
As another one, it was indicated to carry out an audit of the equality situation in the company (preferably by an external observer), followed by the creation of periodic reports on the subject. The issues that could be included in these documents are:
- Number of training sessions per year
- Employee survey
- Examination / survey regarding relations between employees, the possibility of reporting improper treatment
- Information on the existence of equality training, monitoring the number of participants, an observing implementations
Also, it was proposed to implement a job evaluation system – preferably prepared by an external company, which would be aimed at harmonizing the rules of recruitment, tasks at a given position, and the amount of remuneration. The creation of a code of ethics in the organization was indicated as necessary. The need to improve corporate communication was also expressed through ongoing updating of the intranet or creation of a new tool ensuring an efficient flow of information.
To sum up
The research showed that while it is not possible to create a clear and universal definition of fairness, it is possible to specify a catalogue of factors that describe the ideal condition. We also managed to identify women’s specific needs that relate to infrastructure, work organization, open information, a sense of stability, and training. At this point, it should be emphasized that none of the interlocutors indicated any cases in which she would feel openly and fully discriminated against on the grounds of her sex.
Respondents also described significant barriers that limit their employment and work in the transport sector. Important issues in this area are issues related to motherhood and stereotypes functioning in the sector and society.
Thanks to the involvement of people taking part in the survey, it was possible to create a list of features conclusive to the inclusion of women in the public transport industry and measures indicating greater or lesser openness of the transport to women.
Specialist for research and analysis in Analysis Department of ZTM. DIAMOND is his first HORIZON2020 project.
Senior specialist in national and international cooperation in Department of European Funds of ZTM. Coordinates and makes European projects in ZTM a success.
The Public Transport Authority in Warsaw (ZTM), Poland, is responsible for planning, organizing and coordination of the city’s public transport. The budgetary unit of the City of Warsaw is one of DIAMOND’s solution testers, with the goal to analyse women’s needs and expectations of public transport and get insight about how to improve their services and implement new mobility forms.