Kit Steinkellner
March 12, 2015 6:00 am

This week, Reuters reported that rideshare service Uber announced a pledge to add a million female drivers worldwide to their service by the year 2020. We don’t know how many female drivers Uber currently employs worldwide, but we do know that only 14% of Uber’s 160,000 drivers are women.

The announcement coincides with a United Nations gathering this week in NYC in which the topic will be women’s rights, and, in fact, Uber is partnering with the UN on their million female drivers pledge.

This news comes after the company’s many missteps re: its relationship with its female employees and customers. We’ve covered Uber allegedly threatening and stalking female reporters who cover the tech world, and there have been several cases in which male Uber drivers have reportedly sexually assaulted female passengers, including allegations of a rape that occurred in a Delhi Uber that led to a temporary ban of the service in the city. This is a company that needs to make reparations with women in a big way, and a pledge to employ an enormous number of women in the next five years certainly is a start. The question becomes, is this a company that is really changing its tune or is this just a PR move to combat negative press.

Honestly, it’s probably a little bit of both. It’s hard for a corporation to have a change of heart because corporations don’t, you know, HAVE hearts. This is absolutely a response to bad press, but it’s probably also a response to what Uber (and the rest of the world, btw) views as bad infrastructure and policy. If half of Uber’s customers are going to be women, that’s a huge percentage of your client base you need to ensure can safely and happily use your service. Uber not yet put into motion plans for female customers to be able to request female drivers, but once that female driver base is expanded, that really seems like the next logical step.

Even if it is a cynical move (which, let’s be real, it probably is) we’re glad Uber is changing things up and working to create a service that is safer and friendlier for women.

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