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‘It’s time to challenge macho culture in the transport workplace’

Following her appointment as president of Women in Transport, a not-for-profit organisation that empowers women to maximise their potential, Jo Field told LTT how she will be working to achieve gender equality in the transport sector

10 August 2021
A Women in Transport delegation during a site visit to Crossrail Woolwich
A Women in Transport delegation during a site visit to Crossrail Woolwich

 

I am delighted to be elected as President of Women in Transport. It’s an honour to take on the role at such a challenging time for the industry and I’m thankful to the Board, chief executive and members for putting their trust in me. I’m also really pleased we’ve elected four new board members, as well as our fantastic new vice president, Marny Moruzzi. Their skills will really boost the expertise of the board.

One of the key things I’ve done since joining the Board six years ago, is helping raise our profile through effective political engagement, as well as setting up the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women in Transport in 2016. This was a game changer for us. Having a platform for political influence is something that has enabled us to share our members’ views far and wide, and I want to make sure we build on this platform.

Initially, I will be consulting and engaging with our members to shape our vision, plans and future service offering, and this will lead to the publication of our strategy for advancing women in transport.

Flexible working

We recently launched our ‘Gender Perceptions and Experiences Working in Transport’ white paper. I want to drive forward the recommendations from this including ensuring flexible working continues as the industry norm where possible, and planning the delivery of a toolkit to challenge macho behaviours and culture in the transport workplace.

I’m really looking forward to advocating for Women in Transport and boosting our connections with industry, parliamentarians and government to enable us to create positive change for our members and ensure we have an even greater voice on the issues that matter to us.

The number of women working across the transport industry has remained static in recent years and is nowhere near the level it should be. Currently only 20% of the UK transport sector is made up of women, compared with 47% of the UK workforce.

I have definitely seen progress during the course of my career. There are some fantastic recruitment and retention initiatives across the industry and the work of organisations such as ourselves at Women in Transport is definitely helping. But despite the goodwill across the industry, we are not seeing a comparable increase in the recruitment of women. 

We need to get much better at shouting about our positive stories and letting women and girls see what a great industry we work in. 

And once we have encouraged women in, we need to focus on keeping them. That’s why a campaign to tackle the perceived macho culture in the industry is much needed, with over two-thirds of women in our recent survey saying this is an issue.

I also strongly believe that if we can improve communications and public engagement of transport projects, then we open them up to a wider audience, encouraging more women and under-represented groups to consider transport careers. 

The number of women working across the transport industry has remained static in recent years and is nowhere near the level it should be. Currently only 20% of the UK transport sector is made up of women, compared with 47% of the UK workforce

Shaping transport policy

The transport industry is at the forefront of the recovery from the pandemic. All eyes are on us. We don’t yet know what the transport industry will look like in the future. It’s too early to tell if people and businesses will continue working from home and travelling less. But we do need to keep investing in transport projects and we need to encourage people back onto public transport. 

New infrastructure such as HS2 is so important in creating jobs to aid the economic recovery. 

So there has never been a more important time to ensure gender diversity is central to policy making, and that a gender-balanced workforce is involved in the planning, design, construction and delivery of services.

I’m really proud to work in the transport industry, and I’m looking forward to embracing my new role as president of Women in Transport. I want to make sure we empower the women already working in the sector to be their best, while at the same time showcasing this fantastic industry to attract new talent.

 
 
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