Last June, Saudi Arabia ended its ban on women drivers—a fact that saw women getting behind the wheel of Ubers as well as personal cars. Now, Uber is enabling a new feature to let those female Uber drivers filter their prospective ride-hailers by gender.
The program is called Women Preferred View and is the result of months of research into female driver preferences, CNN Business reports. Uber found that 74 percent of prospective female drivers were far more interested in only driving other women. Women Preferred View is the result of this research and serves as a way to encourage more women to get behind the wheel of an Uber.
The intention is to create a safer and more comfortable working environment for Saudi women looking to enjoy the new freedoms they’ve earned. In a country going through a massive cultural shift, it’s crucial to ensure that people feel that they’re being heard and that their wishes are being respected.
The company currently doesn’t intend to roll out Women Preferred View in any other countries—although it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Female riders and drivers are prone to enduring harassment while using Uber or Lyft no matter where in the world they live. I know that, personally, there are times when I’m more comfortable with a female driver (after a long night at a bar, for example, or during 2 a.m. commutes to the airport) than a male driver. I’d be very interested in being able to guarantee the gender of my driver—and I know that other women would, too.
Uber has been involved in some name-besmirching activities in the recent past, but I will admit that this is a good move on their part. Yeah, sure, encouraging more people to drive and take Ubers inevitably benefits them—but at least that extra profit will be accompanied by a little positive social change.