Since 2005, Women in Transport has grown from a small group to one that now has 1,200 members


By Sonya Byers

Women in Transport is a non profit with a mission to advance women working in transport – but we’re open to everyone.

In 2005, a small group of passionate volunteers created a safe space for members to network, support their career progression and have some unique experiences. The network started with fewer than 100 women and connection to an American network meant we could only operate within the M25.

In 2017, we made a bold move to become an independent UK network and rebrand to Women in Transport. We felt it was the right thing to do for our members and to enable the network to grow. The volunteer board were open and willing to make some bold decisions and it has led to some incredible results.

At the time, we had just one part-time member of the team and everyone else was a volunteer. I was the volunteer vice president and I led the rebrand project. We had many questions to answer – not least should we be “Women in..”. Our network is and always will be open to all but we do have consciously exclusive programmes that support women working in the transport sector. We also have brilliant advocates and allies who support our work and are members who enjoy being part of the community.

I was appointed as chief executive in 2019. That year, we established our first regional hub and we launched the Women in Transport Diversity and Inclusion Bus Group.

Navigating through the first Covid-19 lockdown, we faced uncertainty with company budgets being frozen. I vividly recall chairing a Zoom call with our members (whilst eight months pregnant) and telling them our future was in serious jeopardy.

Our members responded with a call to action which helped us rethink, diversify our income and build a sustainable model to carry us through, stronger and better than ever.

We now have over 1,200 members nationwide and are working with more than 50 organisations

Fast forward to 2023, we now have over 1,200 members nationwide and are working with more than 50 organisations. We’ve established regional hubs in North East, North West, Scotland, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales with plans for more. Our influence and visibility is increasing everyday and we’re reaching over a million people across our social platforms.

We’ve supported over 250 mentees and mentors through our Advance mentoring programme since 2018. Our leadership development programme, Lead, launched in 2021, has a growing alumunae of more than 60 women.

I’m proud of everything we’ve achieved.

We are an open and inclusive network.

We’re passionate about collaboration and working with other networks, professional institutions and trade bodies which share our passion for creating a more representative, inclusive and sustainable transport sector.

Alongside supporting our members, we’re focusing on four key themes from our president’s strategy:

    1. Inspiring the next generation;

    2. Influencing industry to decarbonise;

    3. Supporting women’s safety;

    4. Challenging gender and cultural barriers.

This year, we will also be launching an exciting new project to bring together the whole of the transport industry in a ground-breaking piece of work which will provide baseline data to measure and track progress on equity across transport as a whole.

I’m really excited for the future of Women in Transport. It feels like the transport sector is ready to take action and committed to making the future of the transport workforce more representative and inclusive, and we’re at the forefront of driving that change.

If you would like to be part of the change then join us at

COMMENT: Jo Field, President, Women in Transport

Women in Transport is a force for change and that’s why we’re focusing on four key themes that are important to our members, in addition to our core mission of advancing women.

On issues such as women’s safety, we bring our unique perspectives as transport professionals and users of the network to help the industry solve its challenges and make transport safer for everyone.

Cross-party political support is vital to delivering the changes we want to see in relation to our key themes and we’re pleased to have the continued support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women in Transport, Chaired by Ruth Cadbury MP.

We’ll continue to work with the APPG and stakeholders in parliament, governments and the wider industry to ensure our members’ voices are heard.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonya Byers is chief executive of Women in Transport, a non-profit network which supports the professional development of women working in the transport sector.

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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