Rail Industry Focus

02.11.19

Monica Barbosa: Women In Rail

Director of business development and communications at Xrail, Monica Barbosa, thinks women are missing out on exciting opportunities because the lack of gender diversity in the rail industry.

It is no secret that more work needs to be done to increase the representation of women in rail. During my time in the rail industry, I have met a number of fantastic rail leaders, who are working to deliver exciting, state-of-the-art rail projects and leading the way in our sector. 

Yet, often some of these female leaders tell me that they fell into the industry – as I did myself – however only once they were in rail, did they realise the exciting opportunities it provides. The incredible opportunities that I myself have been given since joining the rail sector has helped me grow and develop my skills in ways, I would have never been able to do so in another industry.

However, we still have a long way to go to see women fully represented at senior levels. I hope as we move forward and I attend industry events, I won’t have the voice in the back my mind asking, ‘are you sure you fit in here?’. Instead I will experience a variety of people having their contributions welcomed, including people like me who do not necessarily have an extensive rail background.

These anecdotes show that there is so much more we must do to change our own mindsets, and also attract young women who are thinking about their future careers. That’s why mentoring programmes and rail companies working closely with schools and colleges to showcase the exciting career options our industry has on offer are so vital.

I would like to highlight the role of smaller businesses in the sector in promoting and benefiting from greater diversity. Whilst these SMEs can often be the source of new ideas and solutions for our industry - these businesses may not have the resources when it comes to implementing initiatives that support diversity.

However, there are many things that any company can do to ensure it is inclusive and welcoming – like using ‘gender neutral language’ in job descriptions, training staff for ‘unconscious bias’ and using ‘blind CVs’ during recruitment.

If we don’t work together to attract, retain and promote more women, we’ll not only lose out to other industries that are benefiting from focusing on diversity, but we’ll also have failed in representing the customers we serve. As a rail supply community, we need to continue creating a truly diverse industry that welcomes and respects everyone, and nurtures talent – no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or religion.

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