Women in transportation, an advance that leads to change in Quito

This page in:
Dayana Lara, operadora del Metro de Quito. Dayana Lara, operadora del Metro de Quito.

"My passion for the transportation sector began when I was 13. Later I trained as a driving instructor. Now I work for the Quito Metro." These are the words of Dayana Lara, one of the 18 operators of the Quito Metro, the transportation system that is changing the city’s mobility.

Forty percent of Quito Metro employees are women, including those who serve in managerial, strategic, and operational positions.  In many cases, they also participate in areas such as railway maintenance and train operation, which is rare in a male-dominated sector. Women hold fifty percent of Metro managerial positions. The World Bank, through the First Metro Line project, supported the implementation of several studies for the inclusion of the gender approach in the planning and operation of this transportation megaproject, including employment.



Why it is important to promote women’s employment in the transportation sector

An International Labor Organization study (ILO, 2019) found that women represent less than 20 percent of the global workforce in the transportation sector. In Latin America and Ecuador, women’s participation in the sector is 10.8 percent and 10 percent (ILO, 2021), respectively.

In addition to being an issue of rights and equality, women’s participation in a sector historically dominated by men is key to development given that it can help reduce labor segregation and wage gaps. Women face several obstacles to employment in the transportation sector. These include the limited number of women with training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; gender stereotypes; recruitment policies, and job descriptions without a gender perspective. Additionally, few policies promote the retention of female employees in the sector through benefits that promote a work-life balance, such as maternity leave. The lack of gender awareness among staff and mechanisms to file complaints of workplace sexual harassment, as well as a lack of access to mentoring opportunities are other barriers to women’s participation in the sector (World Bank, 2020).

“We have gone through many filters. There are about two thousand hours of training; the staff people who trained us are experts with more than 25 years of experience. With their support, we have been able to face this major task of transporting 1,500 people by train," said Dayana.

Increasing the number of women in technical and managerial positions can contribute to designing transportation services that consider women’s specific needs and therefore can contribute to the mobility and accessibility of half of the population. For example, an OECD study (2020) demonstrated a correlation between the proportion of female managers in the transportation sector and women’s workforce participation in that sector. Likewise, gender diversity creates benefits by including new skills and a variety of perspectives. Closing the gender gap in employment and entrepreneurship could increase the global GDP by more than 20 percent.  Closing the gender gap over the next decade would double the current global growth rate.

How did the Quito Metro increase women’s employment?

The incorporation of an organizational and employment plan in the contract with the operator promoted equal opportunities. The plan establishes the commitment to maintain a minimum of 20 percent female representation in all managerial, administrative, strategic, and operational positions in the organization. Proactive measures included the adoption of response protocols and ethics codes to prevent and address any violation of women's rights within the organization, and the creation of strategic partnerships with universities across the country to align employability needs with a gender-sensitive approach. It also promoted recruitment focused on experience, professional level, and skills to achieve a more diverse workforce and hire more professional women. Additionally, the operator established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the Human Resources Department to monitor the plan and ensure its compliance.

The Quito Metro, a project financed by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and the European Investment Bank, demonstrated that to achieve gender equality in the transportation sector, collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential, as is technical experience to conduct analytical studies to support activities. The more women who participate in the sector, the greater the role model and demonstration effect will be. As Quito Metro operator Evelin says, “I also wanted to demonstrate that we women can do it, that female staff are very capable and now I work in the Quito Metro.”


Marcela Silva

Regional Director, Infrastructure, Latin America and the Caribbean

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000