The discussion of women’s issues in transportation has come a long way since the first conference on the subject in 1978. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Women’s Issues in Transportation Committee has been at the forefront, identifying and advancing needed research, facilitating ongoing communication and coordination on key topics, and partnering with other organizations to move research results into practice and to share experiences.
The 5th International Conference on Women’s Issues in Transportation, April 14-16, 2014, in Paris La Défense, France, continued a long-standing tradition of excellence, scholarship, and interaction. The conference was sponsored by the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development, and Networks (IFSTTAR) and organized by France’s Transport Research Arena (TRA) and TRB. Women’s Issues in Transportation Committee member Ariane Dupont, IFSTTAR, chaired the conference planning committee.
Focusing on the theme of “Bridging the Gap,” the conference featured keynote presentations, breakout sessions, poster sessions, and master classes, offering interactions with leading women researchers and policy makers. Nearly 220 participants from 36 countries attended the conference.
Participants—men and women—discussed a range of topics, including women’s issues related to safety, mobility, technologies, bicycling, public policy, and employment in the transportation sectors. Technical tours of the Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace (the Air and Space Museum) and bicycling trips through Paris allowed participants to experience local transportation up close.
The conference dinner, hosted by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), was held at FIA headquarters. A second-floor balcony of the building provided an ideal vantage point for viewing the traffic flow in Place de la Concord —a mesmerizing view of automobiles, buses, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, and pedestrians navigating the area—and missing each other.
Moderated by Mary Crass, International Transport Forum, a panel of speakers provided a range of perspectives on transportation. Michele Mouton highlighted her experience as a rally driver who competed at the World Rally Championships and in other international events. Marie-Claude Heys described her participation in the Whitebread Round the World Race and other international sailing events, and Roselyne Bachelot-Norquin summarized her career as a French politician and television commentator.
The dinner also featured the first FIA special achievements awards for promoting women and women’s issues in transportation. FIA President Jean Todt presented awards to Susan B Herbel, Cambridge Systematics, Inc.; past TRB Executive Committee Chair Sandra Rosenbloom, Professor, University of Texas at Austin and Senior Fellow, Urban Institute; and Maryvonne Plessis-Fraissard, formerly with the World Bank and now an independent consultant. All three recipients are longtime and continuing TRB volunteers.
The conference helped bridge gaps in research, policy, and practice on a range of topics and in experiences in different countries. Plans for the 6th International Conference on Women’s Issues in Transportation already are under way; date and location are to be announced.
This article originally appeared in TR News 293. TR News is copyright, National Academy of Sciences, posted with permission of TRB.