On Tuesday, rideshare service Lyft launched Women Plus Connect, an in-app feature that “matches women and nonbinary drivers with more women and nonbinary riders.” The move is an effort to improve safety and encourage more women and nonbinary drivers to work with the company. A report by The Verge found that female rideshare drivers frequently face harassment and sexual assault and feel unsupported by rideshare companies.
The feature offers Lyft drivers an option to turn on a preference in the Lyft app to prioritize matches with other nearby women and nonbinary riders. It’s not a guarantee, however, and if no riders that match that description are nearby, drivers will still be matched with men.
On the rider side, women and nonbinary riders will see an option to “count me in” in their Lyft app. Choosing this will “increase their chances of matching with women and nonbinary drivers,” according to this blog post from Lyft.
For drivers, the feature is based on the gender marker on their license on file, and for riders, on their gender setting within the app, explained CJ Macklin, senior communications manager at Lyft, in an email to The Verge. “Both riders and drivers will have the option to update their gender settings at any time to ensure it is reflective of their personal gender identity,” said Macklin.
“Everyone’s gender is very personal. If someone goes through the steps to change their gender in the app, we are going to assume that is how they identify,” Audrey Liu, Executive Vice President/Head of Design at Lyft, said in a statement. “Inclusivity is a core value at Lyft and we are committed to creating a community in which riders and drivers feel as though they are included and belong.”
Lyft says this feature has been highly requested and will give women and nonbinary people more control over both the driving and riding experience. The company also says it hopes it will encourage more women to take on the role of Lyft driver, which Lyft says pays close to $36 per hour (on average, including tips and bonuses). Currently, that demographic accounts for less than a quarter of Lyft drivers, which is comparable with the rest of the rideshare industry, according to a report by Gridwise.
Competitor Uber has a similar feature for its women and nonbinary drivers called Women Rider Preference, launched in 2022.
Lyft’s program is launching in Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose initially, and the company says it’s looking to roll out to more cities soon. Those in launch cities can download the latest version of the Lyft app starting tomorrow, Sept. 13th to access the feature. You can sign up to be notified when it arrives in your city at lyft.com/women+.
Update, September 12th, 7:10PM ET: Added details provided by Lyft on how riders/drivers identify their gender, along with quotes from the company.