LINCOLN SQUARE — A few months back, my girlfriend and I hailed an Uber on our way home from the bar with pals. We asked him if she could run into 7-Eleven to get us a much-needed frozen pizza, and he obliged.
After thanking him repeatedly, she ran in while I perused Instagram in the back seat. That is when our perfectly polite-seeming Uber driver got creepy.
"Is that your girl?" he asked. "Are you gay? Would she allow you to go out with a man?"
I was horrified — and I texted my girlfriend to hurry up. When we got home, I told her what happened and she was mad, but not surprised. And I wasn't, either: women in this city (and every other city for that matter) deal with creepy guys regularly. It's a completely unacceptable fact of life.
That night, we made a deal: no Uber unless we are with someone else — or if we can snag a female driver.
We aren't alone, and now Uber is trying to do something about it.
Uber announced this week that they want to hire 1 million female drivers by the year 2020. Though it's framed by the company as a push to "accelerate economic opportunity for women," it's hard to believe complaints about women feeling unsafe with male drivers and company sexism didn't have something to do with it.
Jen Sabella looks at the bigger societal issues facing women and safety:
More and more, women are turning to Lyft for ride-sharing — and they've got the data to prove it. A Lyft spokeswoman told DNAinfo that 30 percent of Lyft drivers are women, which is "two times that of our nearest competitor and 30 times more than the for-hire transportation market."
A whopping 60 percent of Lyft passengers are female.
Currently, 14 percent of Uber's drivers are women.
Don't get me wrong, I've had fantastic male Uber drivers who were totally not creepy. But having a female driver definitely peels away a layer of anxiety for me — and other women:
@jensabella while obviously women could hit on me too; it just removed a layer of attention/stress/anxiety from the transaction.— Rachel A! (@madamradams) March 11, 2015
Do you screen ride-share drivers based on gender?
Tweet me @jensabella or @DNAinfoCHI.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: