Efforts should be stepped up to increase the number of women working in the rail industry, says a new report by Women in Rail.
Its investigations reveal that just 16.4% of the railway workforce is female, with the majority of women working in customer-facing roles. Rolling stock companies employ the highest proportion of women (31.3%), followed by train operating companies (20%), manufacturers (12%) and suppliers (5%). Only 4% of women in the overall rail industry work in an engineering role.
In terms of seniority, 79% are in non-management roles, 9.4% are in middle management and 0.6% are at executive or director level. Split by sector, 12% of women employed by rolling stock companies are in engineering roles, with 28% in administration and 51% in junior positions.
For train operators, 66% work in customer service positions with 2% in engineering. Some 10% of women employed by manufacturers are in engineering, while for freight operating companies, women make up 1.4% of the total number of train drivers - an increase of seven from the 16 employed in that role in 2013/14.
Women in Rail founder Adeline Ginn said: “For the first time we have an actionable benchmark upon which companies can identify and target the key areas for change. It is extremely important that the rail industry confronts this gender imbalance as a first step towards changing it for the better. These changes will need to happen within the rail industry as well as outside, to encourage women to follow career paths that lead to rail, such as engineering, from a young age.”
Rail Supply Group co-chairman Terence Watson said: “Rail is an extremely successful sector: more and more people are using the railways and it is attracting investment. However, it is also facing a shortage of people. High Speed 2 alone is expected to create 25,000 jobs during construction and 3,000 jobs when in operation. To fill our ever-growing pipeline with the best talent it will be crucial to attract more women.”