Text by Megan C. Hills
A female Uber driver tells us all
Ilana Hundaeze is 35 years old, drives a BMW with a purple and pink steering wheel and is also one of London’s rare female Uber drivers. As we cruise around the Southbank in the back of her sleek white car, she tells us that there are only 800 ladies like her driving Londoners to and from their destination – all with the help of the handy ride-sharing app.
‘People [get] really surprised when they get into my car and see that I’m a female Uber driver,’ she tells us.
The ladies of Uber are a close-knit community, with many meeting up regularly over coffee to share their Uber stories. With 40,000 drivers in London and just a few hundred females behind the wheel according to Ilana, there’s still scope for more women in the male-dominated industry. It’s a trend that continues across the rest of the capital’s transport according to TFL’s 2017 statistics, with just 556 women driving taxis compared to 24,062 men and 2,564 female private hire drivers versus 115,293 men. However Uber has taken notice and vowed to get at least one million female drivers on the app globally by 2020 – and women like Ilana are part of that movement.
A car says a lot about a person and Ilana’s says it all. Kept to a painfully neat standard, her business cards are stacked evenly beside an impressive collection of change. Her personality shines through in the rainbow cotton candy air fresheners dangling from her rearview mirror, alongside whimsical florals and beads.
There’s no denying that Ilana loves her part time job ferrying people around London, you can hear it in her voice. She decides her own hours and sets them fiercely early, waking up at 6am and doing regular stints until around midday when she moves onto other odd jobs like Russian/English translation, as well as pursuing her acting career.
She doesn’t need you to change her tyres though. She’s had experience working a car showroom and is perfectly capable of looking after herself, thank you very much.
‘I love cars and I’m very experienced with them. So when I need to change oil, I can change oil. I can change water, I can change a wheel,’ she tells us.
Every day, Ilana lets strangers into her car and naturally safety is a huge concern – especially as a woman. However she said that she feels pretty protected by Uber, as all of her rides are tracked and users require a profile before joining the app.
And how is she as a driver? She’s managed to rack up countless 5 star ratings and she shows them to us, scrolling through a long list of glowing praises. One user’s review reads, ‘Ilana was lovely to speak with and gave us some great recommendations for our trip, thank you!’. Another: ‘Great driver, very professional and a great chat! Thanks again’.
As she pulls up to our final destination and sends us off with a smile, we’re inclined to agree.
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