State DOTs Don’t Resemble Their Constituencies — And That’s a Problem

Streetsblog calls attention to the lack of representation of women, people of color, and other groups in state departments of transportation that are largely dominated by white men.

2 minute read

April 1, 2024, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

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Anthony deLorenzi / Adobe Stock

High-ranking officials at state departments of transportation are much more likely to be male and white, according to data from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Two states — Wyoming and Nebraska — had no female executives, while all but seven states had more than 50 percent male executives. And in 11 states, including Georgia, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania, 100 percent of executives identified as white.

According to the Streetsblog USA staff, this is troubling because the makeup of these agencies doesn’t reflect the populations they serve. “Because federal road funding largely flows through their offices, state-level decision makers have a massive influence over, for instance, which neighborhoods are targeted for demolition to make way for highway projects and which are left untouched — and needless to say, Black, brown, and low-income communities have historically (and presently) been the ones that get bulldozed the most.”

The article points out that women, people of color, nonbinary people, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups have different and unique needs when it comes to transportation, mobility, and safety. “As an absolute bare minimum, though, it's essential to ask why marginalized people so often aren't in the room when state DOTs make decisions to represent their own needs— and what impact their absence is having on all of our communities.”

To address similar issues, the Washington state legislature is considering a bill that would give transit riders direct representation on transit board.

Monday, April 1, 2024 in Streetsblog USA

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