Uber partners with UN to hire more female drivers

NEW YORK (KGO) -- Uber made an announcement Tuesday with an unlikely partner, the United Nations.

At Tuesday's United Nations Women event the car service announced a lofty goal of hiring more women with global implications.

When Julie Tran gets into her car and shuts the door it's the perfect place to think.

"I write my free thinking thoughts into this journal," Tran said.

Tran is a writer, a yoga teacher and also an Uber driver.

"There's some time between picking up a passenger and an idea comes up, and I get to jot that down, so I feel that if I were sitting at a cubicle, I wouldn't be able to get any of that done," Tran said.

Earning cash by driving gives her the freedom to pursue her long term goals, she said.

"I get to turn the app on when I want, I get to turn it off when I want," she said.

Uber thinks that sort of flexibility is a great way for women to get ahead.

"Today is the 20th anniversary of this wonderful effort to bring more women to economic empowerment, to advance women," Laura Zapata, Uber spokeswoman.

On the day of the United Nations Women event in New York, Uber released a video highlighting female drivers from countries all over the world.

"Since I started working with Uber, my life has changed because I've been able to divide time for my family and also for me to work," said one woman featured in the video.

Uber announced it's partnering with UN Women to reach a goal of on-boarding a million women in the next five years.

Uber says it has 150,000 drivers in the United States and 14 percent of them are women, that's almost double the percentage of female cab drivers.

"I remember when I first started driving, I was the only driver in Heathrow Airport literally that was female,"

Uber's planning extensive outreach.

"In the next couple of months, we're going to have more specific program announcements," Zapata said.

The announcement was well received among the frequent Uber passengers who spoke with ABC7 News, but even without any prompting, nearly all of them mentioned something else. They say they think they know where this is coming from -- certain news headlines about the company involving male drivers harassing women.

"I stopped using it because of things I've heard," said Tony Gascon

Gascon said he started using Uber's competitor Lyft, which says its drivers are 30 percent women. Uber wants to get there and beyond.

"To ensure that women all over the world know that this is a great opportunity for them to make extra income, and become empowered," Zapata said.
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