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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article30 April 20202 min read

Violeta Bulc on gender equality in transport

Former European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc in an interview with Intelligent Transportation System organisation ERTICO, talks about her involvement in improving gender equality in transport and the changes she has observed as European Commissioner for Transport.

Former Commissioner Bulc is a proud ambassador for the Women in Transport - EU Platform for change. She shies away from giving advice but shares stories and anecdotes that demonstrate where and how improvements to gender balance have been achieved. A key message from Violeta Bulc is that women will have an increasingly important role to play in transport - where digital and green transport solutions will dominate the industry and states that this will bring opportunities for women.

When asked about inspirational stories she recalls an example from Volvo; 

"The company decided to balance the male and female workforce. Volvo soon realised that female drivers take better care of the trucks and equipment, they drive at a more constant pace and therefore use less gas, but besides this, they were able to establish a very positive relationship with their clients. When they delivered goods, they always got feedback, which helped headquarters improve their business. The fourth positive consequence was that male drivers started to behave better! These are the stories that really kept us going and showed us how we can make a difference."

ERTICO mentioned that ‘in 2015 only 22% of workers in the transport sector were women’ and asked if the figures had changed. Violeta replied: ‘When [Junker] … became President, only 21% of women were in European Commission high positions. He said that by the end of his mandate he wanted to reach a percentage of 40%. On the day that we left the office, there were 41.5 % of women in the top positions. This happened only in 5 years, so I’m confident we have planted a seed that will continue to grow. In ten years I expect more than 40% of women working in the transport sector. It is important to have role models.’

She finished off the interview with a statement for companies in the transport sector, ‘One of the characteristics of this changing world is that if you want to be successful, it is no longer enough to be production oriented. Everyone needs to invest in people (education, training, new skills) and focus on the efficient organisation of the company. You need innovation in order to prosper and you need to constantly reinvent yourself through services, products, through your internal organisation. And every case study will tell you that to have a sustainable and innovative spirit in a company you need diversity, because innovation is the result of different minds and views brought together to create a new view.

Former Commissioner Bulc also points out that opportunities emerge not just for women as the gender imbalance in transport is adjusted - but businesses that take these changes on board will also be able to benefit. She states that ‘Women are not just fitting into men’s shoes, we are not trying to behave like men, and we need services and products that talk to us, that recognise our unique needs. Companies that recognise this will be more sustainable and stable.’



Publication date
30 April 2020
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Europe-wide