Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Uber for Women?

Imagine you’re leaving your friend’s house late at night and you call an Uber. Your driver will be “Adam” today (who has only 3 stars) and the license place number is ABD1234, but you just look for the silver “U” in the windshield, hop in the car, and don’t think twice.

As you’re in your Uber home, Adam starts asking you if you have a boyfriend. Why would he wonder about that? You laugh at the question, and make some joke about how you’re only twenty once and don’t need to be tied down. You think it’s just polite conversation, but he takes it as an opportunity. Suddenly the car doors lock, you arrive to your apartment, and Adam won’t let you leave until you give him a kiss. “You’re only 20 once, right? Live a little.” he says. You are trapped and have no idea what to do, you just want to go up to your apartment and sleep…

This is a true story that the founder of the new app, “Chariot for Women” was told by one of his female Uber riders. The founder of this service is Michael Pelletz, who was a former Uber driver, was appalled by the stories he heard from the female passengers, especially late at night. As a husband and a father, he wanted to make sure that there was a safe ride-share platform for not only the women in his life, but also all women. Pelletz has the three important components of creativity that are discussed by Collins and Amabile in our reading: "intrinsic task motivation, domain-relevant skills, and creativity-relevant processes." In being a husband and father, Pelletz has intrinsic task motivation to create a safe platform for those he loves, and those who he understands do not have as safe of an environment as he might, as a 41 year-old Caucasian man. He also worked for Uber for three years and worked roughly 17 hours a day, which gives him a lot of inside knowledge and skills about the payment and function of a ride-share application. This also allows him to have creativity-relevant processes to maintain Chariot for Women.

Starting today, there is a new ride-hailing app catering exclusively towards women. “Chariot for Women” launched today, April 19th, in Boston, which is the first ride-share app of its kind. It focuses heavily on safety, employs women drivers, who are required to go through an extensive background check, and only picks up other women. The idea behind this is that not only might women be afraid to get into a car with a male stranger, but they also might not feel safe driving male strangers. Chariot provides women with the opportunity of safe ride-share jobs, who might not have felt safe driving men and women at night. It will also cater to women and children of any gender under the age of 13. To reach another level of security, the app will give the rider and driver a “safe word” that they will have to exchange for the rider to get in the car. If the safe word is not exchanged, or incorrect, the ride will not begin and the rider will know to look out for the correct vehicle.

Scholar Laird D. McLean, from our readings, explains that cultural creativity involved the truths about a society that are found below Schein’s iceberg model of the unconscious. As a woman, I have never considered being a ride-share driver because I didn’t think I fit the profile. What do I mean by that? I subconsciously dismissed the idea of working as an Uber driver because I didn’t think it would be a job that would make me feel safe. Pelletz is a creative that combats these ideas by creating a safe platform for women to both work and ride.

Additionally, this service is giving back by donating 2% of each single fare to a women’s based charity of the rider’s choice. There will be 10 different charities picked each month, which will show up as a popup while the woman is paying, and she can select any of the 10 charities to donate her 2% to. As stated on Chariot’s website, “With the help of more drivers and passengers, women across the globe will benefit from a simple ride across town.” This is made possible because Pelletz stated in an interview with FOX Business, “I started this business only 9 weeks ago. But when you do something right, everything falls into place. …And I haven’t had to worry about money at all.” Money and profit are not the main goals of Pelletz’s app. Rather, it is about the safety and security of its women’s drivers and riders. 

We need applications like Chariot for Women because of the “climate” in our society. McLean defines climate as “the manifestation of practices and patterns of behavior rooted in the assumptions, meaning, and beliefs that make up the culture” (229).  Sexual assault and harassment are very real things in our society. It is something that women and men worry about on a day-to-day basis. This platform that Michael Pelletz has created, not only in general, but also in the detailed business plan (such as the safe word and donation to women-based charities), allows a safe space.

Will this app make it out of Boston? Will it pop-up on select college campuses? What do you think? Male classmates, do you feel as though this is a discriminatory app? There are a lot of questions that come with this new application, but the creativity, innovation, and good intention are all there.

Mclean, L. D. "Organizational Culture's Influence on Creativity and Innovation: A Review of the Literature and Implications for Human Resource Development." Advances in Developing Human Resources 7.2 (2005): 226-46. Web.

Collins, M. A., & Amabile, T. M. (1999). Motivation and creativity. In Robert J. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of Creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press. 


  1. I saw this the other day and was just as excited! It is really very sad that Uber has become such a worrisome issue for women. I also loved that this was a man who created it, still understanding the need for a creative solution to female fear of alternative taxi services. I wonder how he came up with this when it directly excludes him from the services. I would love to hear more about how the program works in practice, as I'm sure they will need an adjustment period to make everything accessible and comfortable for the users. Thank you for writing about something so useful and new!

  2. Now THIS is true allyship in action! I'm curious as to the reason behind the name for the service, however. Personally, as grateful as I am for the service, I find the name just a bit patronizing; we don't need a chariot, we just want (and deserve) to feel safe and secure. Other than that, major props to the founder and the company for being so proactive and also implementing the 2% donation idea, I think this company could really go places.

  3. This is really great! It really goes back to the basics of "problem finding" that we talk about in class, and it's interesting to me that something like this has not been created earlier. Sometimes we're so caught up by problems in society that we don't realize solutions can be simple (even if it really is awful that the problems these solutions are mitigating are even going on in the first place). Great post!

  4. What an informative post! I also wonder where the founder got the name "Chariot for Women." In addition, I actually question how noble the founders intentions were (or how intrinsically motivated he was) when he created the app, especially because as a man, perhaps he cannot identify with many of these challenges that the women he is trying to keep safe face. You did a great job of incorporating the readings into your post, especially how many innovative ideas come about in particular "climates."

  5. I think this is an amazing idea. I hadn't heard of this at all, but I think this is an amazing idea. I didn't know that so many women were going through this issue with Uber, and I'm so glad to see that someone is trying to fix this issue. I think it's wonderful that a portion of each payment is going towards helping charities geared towards women's issues. I think the most creative part about this is how it solves 2 issues, the issue about Uber and the issue of getting these wonderful charities funding.


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