Lyft is expanding Women Plus Connect, an in-app feature that matches women and nonbinary drivers with women and nonbinary riders, to all US cities. The rideshare service initially launched the initiative in five cities last fall, with the goal of both improving safety and recruiting more female and nonbinary users. Over 2.4 million riders have activated Women Plus Connect since its rollout, according to Lyft’s press materials.
Drivers aren’t required to participate in Women Plus Connect if they don’t want to, and if no nearby passengers matching the profile are available, the app will match with a male passenger. Nearly half of Lyft’s eligible pool of drivers in the eight cities have opted to use the feature.
Female and nonbinary rideshare drivers often face sexual harassment from riders, The Verge uncovered in a 2022 investigation. Such potentially unsafe working conditions have likely led to rideshare being a less popular option for women and nonbinary drivers. Although a survey by Lyft indicates that a plurality of female riders prefer female drivers, only a quarter (23 percent) of Lyft’s driver workforce identify as women or nonbinary. Male drivers are more likely to work later and longer hours due to not having the same safety concerns as women, which has contributed to a 7 percent gender earnings gap, a 2020 Stanford University study on Uber drivers found.
Women Plus Connect will be available to all Lyft riders and drivers who have selected the women or nonbinary gender setting. Riders will notice an option to “count me in” appear on their Lyft app. Meanwhile, women and nonbinary drivers will be asked if they wish to sign up for Women Plus Connect via the app. Lyft will determine who is eligible based on the gender marker on the driver’s license, but drivers can also update their gender settings on the app.