Lyft is rolling out a new feature matching women, nonbinary drivers and riders

San Francisco-based ride-hailing company Lyft has announced it’s rolling out a new feature that helps women and nonbinary drivers to be matched with women and nonbinary riders, in a move aimed at improving safety and allowing those drivers to have more control.  

It’s called Women+ Connect and will be first used in San Francisco and San Jose along with three other early-access cities: San Diego, Phoenix and Chicago.

SEE ALSO: Uber raises the minimum age for most California drivers to 25, saying insurance costs are too high

Lyft said the new offering has been a highly requested feature that would allow its women and nonbinary drivers to feel more confident while doing their job.

"Women+ Connect puts women and nonbinary people in the driver's seat — literally — by letting them choose to match with more women and nonbinary riders," the ride-share company said in its blog on Tuesday.

Lyft also shared figures from a recent survey that found women make up almost half of its riders, but they account for just 23% of drivers on its platform.

The feature would be a preference that both drivers and riders would need to opt into, and Lyft noted that it won’t necessarily guarantee a match.

"If no women or nonbinary riders are nearby, drivers with the preference on will still be matched with men," the company said.

Women and nonbinary riders who want to take advantage of the feature must go to their user profile and tap the "gender" button. At the bottom of the page, users can then toggle on the Women+ Connect option to increase the chances of matching with women and nonbinary drivers. 

"Anyone can update their preferences or opt out in their settings at any time," Lyft explained. 

In addition to giving drivers more control over who got into their vehicle, Lyft said Women+ Connect provided a valuable opportunity for both drivers and passengers to build camaraderie and comfort during their rides.

The company shared reaction from some of its drivers, including one woman who said there’s "a mutual understanding, like 'girl code’" when she drives female passengers.

Lyft said the new feature was developed with input from various experts. It received support from groups including Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

"Women+ Connect was built with intentionality to make rideshare better for women and non-binary riders," said HRC Chief of Staff Jay Brown, who added, "When rideshare is better for these folks, it’s better for everyone."