Uber is no stranger to controversy. In January, more than 70 taxi cabs in Portland, Oregon, protested against the ride share company. (Photo by Aaron Parecki, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
In a blog post on Tuesday, car service app Uber pledged to sign up 1 million female drivers globally by 2020.
Currently, some 14 percent of its 160,000 drivers in the U.S. are female. The company didn’t offer comparable global figures, but apparently it adds thousands of new drivers each month.
In an interview on Monday, Uber General Counsel Salle Yoo said women might find working for the company worthwhile because “Uber does not require (minimum) hours, and it does not require a schedule. It offers the chance to be entrepreneurial, the chance to balance work and family.”
Uber’s focus on women is likely the result of bad press following a series of assaults by drivers in the U.S. and abroad. One of the highest profile incidents occurred in December when an Indian woman said her driver raped her in Delhi. The public outcry led to a temporary ban of Uber in that city.
The female driver pledge was timed neatly to coincide with a United Nations gathering in New York on Tuesday to celebrate women’s rights. The company is partnering with the U.N. on its million-women driver goal, and Yoo will speak at the event.
She said female passengers cannot request female drivers, at least not yet. But she played up some of the app’s safety features, such as riders’ ability to see drivers’ identity by phone before they arrive. Riders also can share with others their estimated arrival time via text message.
Here’s hoping the assaults stop, and that female drivers find profitable new career options.