The gendered impacts of technological change for public transport workers in the Global South


Tessa Wright

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - africa, place - asia, place - south america, planning - surveys, planning - personal safety/crime, ridership - drivers, policy - equity


Women public transport workers, Automation, Job loss, Occupational gender segregation, Workplace violence, Trade unions


The automation and digitisation of work are heavily impacting on the public transport workforce worldwide. Many of the jobs affected are those typically done by women. Yet much discussion about the future of work in public transport is gender blind, or considers women primarily as users of public transport. This paper draws on original research commissioned by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to address this gap, based on five cities that have introduced changes to public transport with significant implications for women's employment – Bangkok, Bogota, Cape Town, Mexico City and Nairobi. It was a qualitative study involving 164 interviews in five cities, primarily with women transport workers but also union representatives, community organisations, policy makers and employers. It finds both opportunities from and risks to women's employment, including the chance to move from informal work to new formal employment, as well as job loss from integrated fare payment systems. It considers the possibility of breaking down traditional patterns of occupational gender segregation in public transport when new systems or technologies are introduced. However in order for women to move into traditionally male jobs such as driving in greater numbers, several barriers must be addressed, such as gender stereotyping, violence at work and working hours and shift patterns. The paper offers some suggestions for how unions, employers, transport authorities and funders can address such barriers.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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