From the Leadership | Advocating for Us #WHM2024

When I first read the theme for this year’s Women’s History Month (WHM), I have to admit I let out a small chuckle. For the WTS community, “Women Who Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” isn’t just a simple theme for one month of recognition – it’s truly the core of what we do and who we are.   

Typically, Women’s History Month gives us the opportunity to educate others about the powerful impacts women have made and continue to make on our culture, society, and in our industry. Perhaps 2024’s theme is more of an opportunity to self-reflect. Women’s History Month is taking on a poignant new meaning for me this year. The 2024 theme is pointed ... and I like to believe, purposeful.

So this year, WTS is taking the WHM theme and putting our own spin on it: “Advocating for Ourselves.” 

Thinking for and Advocating for Ourselves

Organizations like WTS International were formed because there was not space for us in other institutions. Fifty years ago, women were not provided rights we now consider basic. But there is still so much work to do:

  • Globally, women remain unsafe when using public transportation
  • Women remain underemployed, especially in the transportation sector
  • Policymakers are undoing vital initiatives concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, especially in higher education
  • Women still shoulder the burden of caregiving and emotional work outside their day jobs, doing most of the unpaid work.

While progress has certainly been made, one month’s theme isn’t enough.

  • How do we create a more accepting, inclusive, and equitable workplace?
  • How do we advocate for basic safety in our communities?
  • How do we advocate for more of everything: attention, opportunity, and maybe most importantly … time?

Empowerment to do each of these things starts with getting together. Bringing women, and allies, together to share stories, educate, and train. As Melinda Gates wrote, in The Moment of Lift, “[We must mobilize to bring women away from margins, to take our place] – not above men or below them, but beside them  at the center of society, adding our voices and making decisions we are qualified and entitled to make.”

Part of this mobilization is sharing and highlighting the voices that give credit and honor the challenges the trailblazers in front of us overcame, while also giving voice to the inequities that still exist.

Advocacy can mean so much. We can advocate for others during regular meetings in our day-to-day work. We can support our peers as they search for new roles or the best methods to advance their careers. We can sponsor and recommend qualified women for new opportunities. And we can also advocate for ourselves: proactively asking for new roles or promotions. Asking for extra support in projects. Requesting time away to avoid looming burnout. Looking for additional help outside of the office with caregiving and household responsibilities. Demanding policies that help cultivate safer and healthier environments for us all.

Celebrating Ourselves

As we advocate for ourselves, we can also use the month of March to convene and celebrate.

  • WTSI will host our 2nd Annual Policy Symposium in D.C. this week, hearing from leaders in both the private and public sectors, like Polly Trottenberg, Wendy Chun-Hoon, and 20+ other experts in transportation and policy.
  • The collective voice of WTS is a powerful force with great potential. We’re proud to partner with the Eno Center for Transportation again for what is quickly becoming one of my favorite traditions, the March “Women Take Over” edition of the Eno Transportation Weekly. Once again, this year’s issue will feature all women authors, many names you will recognize as our own WTS members.  
  • WTS Chapters always provide amazing opportunities to learn and connect in March. I encourage you to register for programs being offered in your area, and I applaud the dedication and commitment of our volunteers in 69 chapters and growing around North America.
  • Join us on March 27th as we launch our member meetups, WTS Connects, with a featured speaker and roundtable discussions.
  • I invite you to engage in the conversations we will be having in MyWTS Communities, and reference our webpage dedicated to Women’s History Month here

For former WTS members, I welcome you to re-engage. Get to know what is new at WTS, and get to know the over 9,000 members currently embodying our mission and vision. We are committed to building influence and value, including expanding our programming and learning in both transportation and leadership development and skill building, convening at our Annual Conference, and learning about policy decisions that affect our professional lives.

WTS will also observe International Women’s Day on March 8th, and Equal Pay Day on March 12th, although we also recognize that equal pay days for Black, Latina, and Indigenous populations still occur much later in the year.  

We are celebrating you, and we are celebrating and advocating for ourselves. I hope the next 31 days are a time of self-reflection, but also self-promotion, and self-love. Thank you for being both committed learners and committed leaders in the transportation industry. We are also advocating for you.

Sara Stickler's Signature




Sara Stickler
President and CEO, WTS International