Getting women on board

Source: RTM Aug/Sep 16

Adeline Ginn, founder of Women in Rail, runs through The Big Rail Diversity Challenge event, which aims to show that gender diverse teams work better together.

Women in Rail was created in 2012 to provide networking opportunities and support for all women working within the railway industry, promoting rail as an attractive career choice for the younger generations and influencing key stakeholders to support and encourage initiatives aimed at improving gender balance and bridging the skills gap in the sector.   

In the four years since it began, Women in Rail has achieved a tremendous amount, growing from strength to strength and moving closer to attaining its vision for the rail industry. 

The sector’s workforce comprises many fantastic and talented men and women, but little is known of the exciting career opportunities the sector has to offer. Women in Rail’s report released in November last year shows that the number of women working in the rail sector is 16.4% of the total workforce, with only 1.3% of these working in senior roles. These results show there is an imperative for change. 

The power of a more gender-balanced workforce has been proved time and time again. Studies have shown that companies with more women on their boards outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity. With a diverse workforce comes different perspectives, experiences and skillsets, as well as new ideas and ways of working, all of which ultimately bring about positive change within companies. To keep its competitive edge, there is an imperative for the British railway industry to not only encourage more women to join the sector, but also to support its female workforce so that women progress  up the career ladder in the company within which they are employed. 

Time for change 

The latest report from Lord Mervyn Davies, the government’s champion of gender equality in the boardroom, has seen the percentage of women on boards grow from 14% to 26.1% in the last five years. However, the rail industry is often misconceived as an unattractive sector by the younger generation, and especially girls.  In reality, rail is one of the most dynamic and exciting industries in the UK to work in at the moment. At a time when many sectors are struggling, Crossrail and HS2 are experiencing billions of pounds of investment, thousands of jobs are being created and important parts of the country are being regenerated. 

The Women in Rail report discusses what can be done to change the outdated image that rail has in our society. With some of the leading names in the industry providing their thoughts and opinions on the current situation, Women in Rail has been able to draw conclusions on how to tackle the problem at hand. Most notable is the need to promote the industry more positively among our young girls and women. After all, given rail’s rich history and heritage in this country, our young generation should be excited to be a part of it. 

Striking the balance 

One of the core objectives of Women in Rail is to bring key stakeholders together and encourage them to work collectively on improving gender balance within the rail sector and close the current skills gap. This involves providing opportunities for our members to network, develop and foster key relationships. 

That is why, in September this year, Women in Rail is launching The Big Rail Diversity Challenge. The event, a cross between ‘It’s a Knockout’ and ‘Krypton Factor’, consists of a series of fun physical and mental challenges undertaken by teams with a ratio of 50% male and 50% female. The aim is to show that gender diverse teams work better together and to raise awareness of the business benefit attained when companies improve their male:female ratio. 

As well as a chance to fundraise, it will also provide participants with an opportunity to network and team build during several challenges.

(Image: c. Oomph)


If you are interested in taking part in the event, which will take place on 30 September in Leicestershire, please visit the website:



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