What keeps women from returning to rail?

David Horne, Adeline Ginn, Baroness Kramer at WiR event crop 636401250432138403Adeline Ginn, founder of Women in Rail, calls on the industry to tackle the barriers stopping women from returning to work after a period of absence.

Returning to work after a period of absence can be a somewhat daunting task for anyone. What should be a positive experience is often marred by a multitude of concerns: from fears surrounding employability, a new need for flexible hours and, expectedly, financial concerns. Female returners in particular are often faced with worries surrounding their home/life balance and their perceived skills gap. But being a woman is by no means a barrier to working in the rail industry. 

Earlier this year, Women in Rail and the Rail Benefit Fund (RBF) joined forces to conduct a survey looking to address the issues facing women returning to work within the rail sector after a period of absence, be it as a result of maternity leave or other care responsibilities.  

The first of its kind, the survey aimed to help identify what our industry can do better to support and retain its female talent. Over the past few weeks, the survey – which was predominantly advertised on social media, particularly on Twitter where the rail industry is very active – asked women who work within the rail sector a total of 29 questions about their experiences and opinions on returning to work. The survey attracted an incredible 586 responses from women who wanted to take part and voice their opinions. These women represented TOCs, rolling stock leasing companies, manufacturers, suppliers and infrastructure providers, to name a few.  

The results have offered us unique and informative insight into the feelings, concerns and views of rail employees across the country at varying stages of their careers, and highlighted the contributing factors involved in women’s decisions to return to work. Answers indicated that women also found balancing work with family life one of the most challenging aspects of returning to work.  

Both Women in Rail and the RBF believe that there is work to be done to improve women’s transition back into work after a period of absence and ensure female talent is, at the very least, retained in the railway sector. 

The survey’s results will be published in full this October, and we look forward to working with the industry to highlight the factors that can impact a woman’s decision to return to work and progress in their career, and propose solutions based on the answers given. Addressing such concerns often falls to internal processes within individual companies and departments managing an employee’s transition to returning to work, but there is certainly more that can be done to support and reassure returners industry-wide. After all, someone who is more comfortable on their return to the workplace is more likely to remain in the industry long term.  

Women in Rail and RBF are passionate about bettering the lives of those in the rail sector. RBF is the only charity that solely supports railway people and their families, and this survey is a continuation of the support it provides to those who need it in the rail industry, offering advice, online support and financial assistance. Women in Rail aims to increase diversity and inclusion within the UK railway industry and believes that more can be done to support female employees – current and prospective.  

The huge response rate provides solid data and both charities look forward to working with the industry to overcome many of the issues identified by this survey. A huge thank you to all those who took part.

(Top image: c.south agency)

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Andrew JG   09/09/2017 at 01:30

I think it's a brilliant idea to employ women who might love working on the railways. The railways isn't just for men. Anybody can work on the railways. So why can't women work on the railways. Network Rail has employed a lot of men workers working on the railways across the UK. And they are also employing women aswell to work on the railways and to work as a team. So why can't women be able to enjoy working on the railways. Such as track maintenance and track repairs, electrification on the railways and overhead wiring replacement renewals, railway signalling and signalling maintenance, rail projects (Crossrail & HS2) and even working within the local community whilst working on the railways.

Ryan   09/09/2017 at 10:47

Andrew, don't forget the office-based jobs. I have plenty of female colleagues.

Andrew JG   09/09/2017 at 14:39

Network Rail should employ more women to work on the railways. Network Rail isn't just a company who has employed men but young people and I think women should be given the opportunity to work for Network Rail and other rail franchise companies.

Boris   10/09/2017 at 15:13

Are you suggesting that Network Rail is behaving illegally and refusing to employ women solely because of gender?

Andrew JG   10/09/2017 at 16:08

No. Network Rail can employ anyone who has good qualifications including those from Universities and Colleges.

Vlad   11/09/2017 at 19:46

So why haven't you applied?

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