Highlighting the role of women in the transport sector

Women in Transport is a not-for-profit organisation promoting and supporting the advancement of women in the transport industry. Its president, Katie Hulland, highlights why you should support them.

Women are underrepresented in transport - at just 20% of the workforce - and it is our mission to shift this to a better balance. To do this, Women in Transport is focused specifically on attraction, career advancement and retention of women within the industry.

Founded in 2005, we now have over 500 members, representing more than 160 different organisations and over 300 different roles across transport. Encouragingly, around 8% of our members are men and these numbers are steadily growing.

Women in Transport is involved in many initiatives to encourage more women into the transport sector.  Jobs in transport are often perceived as jobs for men. To change this perception, we showcase the career opportunities available in the industry, provide a network of support and work with government and other organisations to support and progress equality of opportunity.

Our members benefit from our extensive events programme which includes unique experiences, site visits, professional development and networking opportunities. Members also benefit from access to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Women in Transport and Advance, our very popular mentoring programme. 

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic we have introduced a range of virtual workshops and webinars, increased our communications and now host regular, informal online networking sessions to support our members during these challenging times. 

Despite the enormous investment in diversity and inclusion, there is still much work to be done as the representation of women in the sector has actually decreased over recent years. Disappointingly, diversity and inclusion is one of the areas that seems to have immediately suffered from cutbacks as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have also seen gender pay gap reporting suspended by the government, although some organisations are still reporting on a voluntary basis.

There is a growing body of evidence and data on the impact of Covid-19 on gender balance and, while there are many challenges to women, it is also providing an opportunity to attract and retain more women in the sector which is vital to economic recovery.

Examples of this include encouraging flexible and remote working and changing organisational culture. However, to recruit more women into the transport sector there also needs to be more emphasis on removing gender bias from recruiting procedures and focusing on skill transference. It is also important when recruiting women to understand the drivers that are likely to attract them to the transport sector. 

On the positive side, we have seen companies that were previously opposed to home and flexible working becoming more agile and enabling different and new ways of working. This provides an opportunity, as we know that flexible working is a significant enabler when it comes to the recruitment, retention and progression of women in the workforce.

The prize to be gained from harnessing the vast untapped pool of female talent is huge. At Women in Transport we will continue to work to ensure that women understand that there are great careers in the transport sector and to support the development of those working in the industry.  

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Katie Hulland is the president of Women in Transport.