By Taylor McGinley

TRB's 6th Women in Transportation Conference

Women Lead the Way in Community Mobility

CTAA’s Alex King and Taylor McGinley will be presenting at TRB’s 6th Women in Transportation Conference. Their abstract, “Women Lead the Way in Community Mobility” was chosen to be featured at the conference, held this year in Irvine, California.

For the 6th time, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) will be hosting the Women in Transportation Conference. This conference will be held September 11 through September 13 in Irvine, Calif. The sessions and intensives all focus around this central theme: “Insights, Inclusion, and Impact: Framing the Future for Women in Transportation.”

The conference began in 1978 with the goal of focusing on issues women face related to travel and transportation. Over the years, the conference has grown and dives into gender disparities, how transportation can best support women and ensure their safety, along with figuring out ways in which women can be more involved in the transportation planning process.

This year, CTAA is proud to announce that Health Care and Transportation Associate Alex King, along with Communications Specialist Taylor McGinley, are not only attending the conference, but speaking during a special presentation.

When we saw the call for abstracts, we immediately knew that CTAA had to be involved in some way. We decided to submit a “non-traditional” abstract, specifically a photo essay, that seeks to showcase female leaders at rural, small-urban, specialized and tribal transit systems. We chose to feature these systems for a multitude of reasons: they are often overlooked, they represent a large section of the transit industry and the are mostly female driven.

Our idea was to submit a photo of a transit leader, coupled with a quote about her experiences working in transit. We began working off an initial list of women we knew we had to talk to, and it rapidly expanded. We spoke to each leader for about thirty minutes and had the opportunity to learn about their background, their system and what they think being a woman brings to the transit table. We were excited to see that our initial abstract was chosen to move forward. The abstract is featured here (PDF).

A few months later, we submitted our extended abstract. We had the opportunity to speak with more than ten women and could expand our abstract even further. Our ideas for the project became more flushed out, as we could begin to identify key trends and patterns from the conversations we were having. We found that each conversation we had generally focused around a specific theme, and we were able to tease that out and provide a keyword for each interview (listed above the photo; examples are shown below).


"I graduated with a bachelor's in Women Studies and I still think about gender dynamics all the time. It was an eye-opening experience to me because it was learning about the -isms, 'why is the world the way it is?' and 'what does gender have to do with that?' I think that for me, I am really motivated to do [inclusive planning] work because of social justice and equity issues. I think gender equity is a big part of that." - Zoe Miller, Senior Project Manager & Public Health Specialist at the Greater Portland Council of Governments (Maine)

pushing boundaries

"When I was working and pregnant with my fifth child, we proposed and piloted across the department a "babies at work" policy. I think that by pushing to have those family-friendly types of policies, we are going to increase the number of really talented women in the sector. If a woman sees a gap or a lack of support that would help her be a better worker, she should ask the question, 'why don’t we do this?' or 'why don’t we try this?' If we can continue this dialogue, ask these questions, we can continue to be better." - Amy DeWitt-Smith, Executive Director at Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada (Nev.)


"For my first position, which was primarily working on the fleet management side of transit, it was a very heavily male industry. I had to be 110 percent all day every day, no matter what. I was the only woman at the table in that job. Being a woman has made me more empathetic, allowed me to bring more diverse voices to the table, and has impacted how I staff my projects. I have the distinct honor of working with numerous strong women in my current role and am learning so much from them." - Jaime McKay, WSP supporting Maryland Transit Administration

For the first time, TRB’s Women in Transportation Conference will be hosting a “special photo and video session” dedicated to non-traditional presentations. We will be presenting along with two other women, and will have the opportunity to speak about our project. We intend to showcase all of the women we spoke to, along with trends found throughout the conversations.

Check back into CTR at the end of September to read a synopsis of our presentation, along with the presentation itself.


The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.