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ATU Gender Equity Report Reveals Women and Non-Binary Members Face Barriers to Equity

Delegates at the Amalgamated Transit Union’s 59th International Convention approved a resolution to conduct a gender equity survey focused on the conditions faced by women and non-binary members in the U.S. The survey was designed as a companion to the gender equity report released by ATU Canada in 2019 that detailed the pervasiveness of gender-based biases within the Canadian transit industry. Specifically, the Canadian report highlighted challenges faced by women transit workers, including gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, safety concerns, gender-specific occupational hazards, and representation within their Local unions.

The U.S. gender equity survey incorporated these themes and included several additional questions tailored to U.S.-specific issues, such as the availability of paid family leave. A total of 201 survey responses were collected from women and non-binary U.S. ATU members from January 2022 to April 2022.

The survey results found that women and non-binary members experience significant barriers to equity and inclusion within the transit industry, impeding overall job satisfaction.

ATU is committed to women’s equity and the U.S. survey results show that there is still much to be done as we fight for all of our members in the workplace, in contract negotiations, and in the halls of government. The report also provides an opportunity for us to incorporate values of equity and inclusion within our own Local unions by ensuring that positions of leadership, including on our executive boards and bargaining committees, reflect the diversity of our members.

The report includes a series of recommendations that are consistent with Resolution Q, “Supporting Women’s Equity and Preventing and Stopping Sexual Harassment,” which was adopted by delegates at the 60th International Convention in September 2022. The International will incorporate the survey results and recommendations into our ongoing equity initiative, including the Women’s Equity Training program. It takes all of us as union members to address gender-based discrimination and uphold the voice and dignity of every member of our Union, and we hope these resources help achieve this end.


“ATU’s commitment to women’s equity and inclusion means fighting for equitable treatment of all our members in the workplace, in contract negotiations, in our own campaigns, and in the halls of government.”

ATU International President John Costa


Some Key Findings:

Representation & Inclusivity in the Workplace:

Respondents reported that entrenched gender biases perpetuate an exclusionary work environment. 52.3% of respondents reported that they have experienced or witnessed management giving preferential treatment to men over women and non-binary individuals.

Restroom Access:

Most survey respondents reported difficulty accessing clean and safe restrooms on the job, at times resulting in medical complications. 60% of all respondents reported that they do not feel that they have adequate restroom access on the job. Among bus operators, 74.4% reported inadequate restroom access.

Physical and Psychological Safety:

A majority of respondents reported that they frequently fear for their safety on the job. As workers who regularly interact with the public, many have experienced both physical and verbal aggression while working. 88% of bus operators reported that they fear for their safety either sometimes or often.

Workplace Sexual Harassment:

As the transit industry workforce is predominantly male, women and non-binary workers are susceptible to gender-based harassment. Many respondents reported experiencing sexual harassment from passengers, coworkers, and management. 49.3% of respondents reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job. Of those respondents, 45.3% experienced harassment from passengers and 30.3% experienced harassment from coworkers.

Parental/Maternity Leave, Pregnancy Accommodation, and Childcare:

Inconsistent scheduling and a lack of flexibility was an issue for employees with childcare responsibilities. Additionally, many employees reported a lack of access to paid family or maternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child. 52% of respondents who reported that they were aware of their employer’s parental leave policy said it was inadequate.

Representation and Inclusivity in Local Union Leadership:

Despite comprising approximately one third of ATU’s U.S. membership, women and non-binary members are not proportionally represented in Local union leadership. 60.6% of respondents estimated that “less than 25%” or “none” of their Local’s leadership positions were filled by women and non-binary individuals.