Ride-hailing app Uber, under the microscope due to a handful of driver assaults on passengers in some cities, pledged in a blog post to sign up one million female drivers globally by 2020.
The ride service did not provide comparable figures for how many women drivers are on the Uber service globally today. In the United States, about 14% of its 160,000 drivers are female, the company said, and the company adds thousands more drivers each month.
“Uber does not require (minimum) hours, and it does not require a schedule,” said Salle Yoo, Uber’s general counsel, in an interview Monday about why women might find working for Uber attractive. “It offers the chance to be entrepreneurial, the chance to balance work and family.”
Women passengers won’t yet have the ability to request women drivers, Yoo said. She stressed the app’s safety features, including the notification of who a driver is, and the ability to share an estimated arrival time with others.
The pledge comes as the rapidly expanding company deals with fallout over incidents of assaults by drivers from Boston and Chicago to New Delhi.
In the highest-profile case, an Indian woman said in December her driver raped her in Delhi, leading to outcries and a temporary ban of Uber in that city.
The female driver initiative is timed to a United Nations gathering in New York Tuesday evening celebrating women’s rights, where Yoo will speak.
Uber screens drivers, including using background checks that vary from country to country, but doesn’t hire them as full employees. Instead, it lets drivers use its smartphone-based app to connect them to passengers looking for a paid ride, and takes a cut of the fare.