Female Train Drivers: A Critical Imbalance?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

female train drivers are a rarity in the british rail industry

Recent figures collected by a railway gender diversity survey, have drawn up some alarming results. The results show that less than 2 in every 10 railway employees are female. ‘Women In Rail’ conducted the survey. Women In Rail are a pro female train drivers support group,. They say the results are indicative of the fact that railway standards need to change. We decided to do some investigating…

What do the results show about female train drivers?

Along with the statistic that less than 2 in every 10 railway employees are female, the results show a breakdown of individual roles within the rail industry. They show that overall, male employees dominate certain sectors, in particular engineering, manufacturing and driving roles. Britain has the lowest number of female engineers in all of Europe, with just 6% in general, and only 4% of these working in the rail industry. This statistic also extends to drivers, where just 4% of drivers are female, and only 1.5% of freight drivers in the UK are female.

female train drivers are just as capable of doing the job as men

Where are women employed?

For the most part, women in the rail industry are employed within customer service roles, such as working as conductors/guards, customer service and catering/retail. Respondents to the survey have argued that this is stereotypical and sexist. While women are stereotypically seen as more caring or welcoming than men, this doesn’t mean that they are incapable of performing other roles just as effectively. Similarly, men are equally capable of performing in the same roles as women.

Does this mean the rail industry is sexist?

There are a number of answers to this question. Firstly, it would be unfair to label the rail industry outwardly sexist. The reason is partly down to the fact that there just aren’t many women applying for the roles. The government are working on a more active strategy for attracting women to the roles.  Results also show that only 10% of female rail employees have risen to middle management roles. A staggering 0.6% have reached director level or higher. This seemingly indicates that there is an issue with male domination in the rail industry, and this is something the rail industry will need to work on if they wish to progress, and enhance their reputation.

female train drivers could be the answer that TOCs have been looking for

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