Published for International Women’s Day, a survey for RDG has found that four-fifths of women in Britain have never considered a career in rail

 

Staff at train operator Greater Anglia have formed a group to focus on gender equality issues, with over 100 colleagues joining up

 

A survey for the Rail Delivery Group has shown that considerable work is needed to make railway careers more attractive to women and help the industry achieve its plans to increase diversity amongst its workforce.

Published last week to coincide with International Women’s Day, the YouGov poll found that 81% of women in Britain have never considered a career in rail, with many holding misconceptions about their suitability or reservations about the industry’s culture.

Half the respondents said their perception of rail as a male-dominated environment meant they would not want to work, or would not feel comfortable working, in the sector. In addition, the survey suggested that the railway needs to carry out greater promotional work on the careers available. It showed that nearly a third of the women who had not considered a career in rail know little about the industry.

We all need to take responsibility for making our industry more diverse. The community we serve expects it, and so should we

Giving the annual George Bradshaw Address in London, Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy stressed the importance of increasing diversity for improving the industry’s relationships with customers and communities and urged all industry leaders present to play their part. “There’s much more to do and we all need to take responsibility for making our industry more diverse,” he said. “The community we serve expects it, and so should we.”

The YouGov poll highlighted that the industry has a number of advantages it can exploit in seeking to increase female recruits, particularly its employment conditions and availability of part time work – 70% of women said they would retrain for a role which offered greater job security and benefits while nearly half (48%) of women said the availability of part time work would be an important factor when deciding whether to move to a different industry.

The RDG-led ‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity’ initiative has made a commitment to increase the proportion of women in the railway’s workforce to 20% by 2020. A Network Rail survey at the end of last year showed that more diverse teams are more productive, but achieving the target would be challenging with women making up 16% of the company’s staff and filling only 10% of operational roles. With 100,000 new rail jobs expected to be created by 2027, a significant increase in female recruitment and retention will be required to maintain and continue increasing female representation.

I would urge women keen to make a difference in a dynamic environment not to miss out on great jobs

“Working together we have an ambitious plan to change and improve and to achieve this, we need to build on our existing workforce and attract diverse talent,” said Jacqueline Starr, managing director, customer experience, Rail Delivery Group.

“I would urge women keen to make a difference in a dynamic environment not to miss out on great jobs and opportunities in a sector that offers quality on the job training, great benefits and family friendly policies.

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!