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170 out of 46,000 New York City taxi drivers are women

While women-only taxi companies have begun to offer avant-garde services in many parts of the world, the US taxi industry is a stubbornly male business. Only about 2 percent of all US taxi drivers (about 225,000 in all) are female.

In New York state the figure is even lower with about 1.1 percent. Women account for 60 percent of all taxi rides in New York City yet men account for 99 percent of all taxi drivers.

The scarcity of U.S. female drivers persists amid an international flurry of startups in women-only cab companies. One of the first was London's Pink Ladies, a company formed in 2005 after a girl was murdered by someone posing as a taxi driver. On the heels of that, two female entrepreneurs--both with daughters of their own--launched an eye-catching fleet of pink cabs driven by women for exclusively female passengers. In 2006 a Pink Ladies branch opened in Moscow and similar ventures have been making headlines in countries such as Iran, the United Arab Emirates and India. The New York taxi industry depends on a work force that is almost 85 percent immigrant, with South Asians from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh predominating, according to a 2004 study of the driver population by Bruce Schaller, a taxi industry consultant based in Brooklyn.

Female taxi drivers were more numerous in the 1960s, but many left the industry in the following two decades when high crime rates made the job considerably more dangerous. Today, there are programs to help women enter many traditionally male fields but none is aimed at informing women about taxi driving opportunities.

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