Management / Network Rail launches career drive to attract female engineers

Network Rail launches career drive to attract female engineers

Network Rail (NR) is to launch a new drive to attract female engineers after research revealed girls as young as seven have an "unconscious bias" against the profession.

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Thousands of schoolgirls will be encouraged to consider a career on the railways through a work-experience scheme and open evenings.

Focus groups with young girls across the country revealed a “watershed” age of 11 to attract them into engineering, with some as young as seven being against the idea.

By the age of 14, many girls have fully switched off from engineering as a career, it was found.

Network Rail chief engineer, Jane Simpson, said: “If my school careers adviser had her way, I would have become a nursery nurse or teacher but I wasn’t willing to accept being pigeon-holed like that.”

Ms Simpson joined the engineering industry as an apprentice aged 16 and is now NR’s most senior engineer, managing a 500-strong team of engineers and technicians across Britain.

Loraine Martins, director of diversity and inclusion at NR, said: “We have some fantastically smart and creative women working for us, making a big difference to the millions of people who travel by train every single day.

“We want even more women to be inspired by the job Network Rail does and to join us as we build a better railway for Britain.

“We know that a more diverse workforce helps increase productivity and creativity and will help us deliver on our multi-billion pound railway upgrade plan over the coming years.”

Transport Minister Claire Perry said: “This government’s investment in world-class infrastructure will create jobs and opportunities across the country, but we need to make use of all available talent to ensure Britain stays on the right track.

“Women currently make up a tiny proportion of our surveyors, engineers and construction professionals.

“We’re doing our part asking Crossrail Chief Executive Terry Morgan to lead a transport and infrastructure skills strategy aimed at addressing issues like this, but it’s vital that industry leads the way in showing our young people what an exciting career they could have.

“I’m delighted to see Network Rail’s efforts to reach out to girls and young women and I’m sure this campaign will have a real impact in making our workforce even more diverse and successful.”